Sky News' Colin Brazier Opened MH17 Victims' Suitcases On Air, Appalling Everyone — VIDEO
When reporting on a global disaster, there can be a fine line between reporting the facts and disrespecting the privacy of the victims. One reporter crossed that boundary on Sunday during a live broadcast: Sky News' Colin Brazier opened MH17 passengers' suitcases on air, immediately receiving criticism from viewers and even his colleagues in media.
Brazier was reporting from the field in the eastern Ukraine, where MH17 crashed after it was allegedly struck by a Russian-made missile. Because the missile caused the Boeing 777 to break apart midair, the crash left a massive trail of debris, including the baggage and belongings of the victims, on the ground.
During the live TV broadcast, Brazier reported that emergency workers were working to gather all the belongings as he stood next to an open suitcase. "It’s ghoulish. It’s heart-wrenching. It’s difficult, not least in how we choose to broadcast these images" Brazier said of the crash site. "We're not showing you pictures of the body parts or horribly charred remains, which litter the fields and roadsides here."
Unfortunately, by this point in the broadcast, the camera had already panned down to the ground where the belongings of an MH17 victim, including an "I [Heart] Amsterdam" T-shirt and a Holland travel guide, were on full display. The camera zoomed in on the items as Brazier talked, then panned over to another cluster of open suitcases.
"I think this was gathered together," Brazier said. "Children's clothes, guide books, T-shirts, bags. The paraphernalia of holiday-making and travel. ... Everything you would back for travel."
After reaching into an open suitcase and picking up a children's bag and a set of keys, Brazier realized, "We shouldn't really be doing this."
As criticisms of the newscast poured in, Sky News apologized for airing the personal belongings of the victims. A spokesperson for Sky News said:
Today whilst presenting from the site of the MH17 air crash Colin Brazier reflected on the human tragedy of the event and showed audiences the content of one of the victims' bags. Colin immediately recognised that this was inappropriate and said so on air. Both Colin and Sky News apologise profusely for any offence caused.
Unfortunately, the apology may have been a little too late. Numerous viewers, including BBC journalists, had already taken to social media by that point to air their disgust and disappointment over the newscast.
If there's one thing we learned from this Sky News gaffe, it's this Journalism 101 tip: Use some discretion when reporting on the private lives of victims. Going through a deceased child's suitcase without permission from family members? Not the best call.