Inexperience in the newsroom leads to aborted trials

Opinion from Scott Mayman

I got angry this week because of what I’m witnessing. I’m seeing mistakes that shouldn’t be happening. Mistakes that could be avoided, if owners and operators kept credible senior staff on their payroll.

We begin with a WIN-TV News broadcast in early June which caused a Ballarat murder trial to be aborted due to prejudicial details that had not been raised in court. The judge declaring that as a result of that broadcast, the accused did not have the right to a fair trial. As reported by Media Watch, the journo got the information from social media. “An absolute no-no in court reporting,” as noted by the program’s host, Paul Barry.

He’s absolutely correct.   In 2016, I publicly stated that we will see more of these critical mistakes occurring following an incident when a young journo at Yahoo 7 pretty much got hung out to dry by her employer. Her career was just starting out when she was given the responsibility of working a very senior shift and she published content that was NOT part of court proceedings. Her employer was fined $300,000 for the oversight.   

Keep that wallet open!!!  I’m astounded as to how many times this error is occurring. I don’t believe it’s anything malicious on the part of young journalists, rather it’s the error of operators to employ JUNIOR “Fresh Out Of Uni” kids. There needs to be some seniority in newsrooms.

Don’t get me wrong. I wish these kids all the success in the world, but it’s not fair on them, to be expected to carry out the work of a senior journo. Operators need to bring back credibility and authority by employing more senior staff, otherwise I fear more stuff ups will occur.

Even the ABC can’t escape these errors. Media Watch pointed the finger at one of their own news colleagues who caused a Newcastle jury to be discharged, again because of allegations raised by the public broadcaster, that had not been given in evidence at the trial.

In the words of Paul Barry “Not enough reporters, not enough training, not enough care”.

When and where will that cash register ring again?  

When I was News Director at KCMO-AM in Kansas City and again at 4BC in Brisbane, I made sure we had a good balance of senior staff and “Young Guns” as part of a succession plan. This is obviously not happening anymore, and I can only say there’ll be more trials being aborted because of these mistakes.

About the Author

Scott Mayman is an award winning radio presenter and journalist – both in Australia and the United States.  Scott is currently host of the Brekky Show on Radio 97 / FM104.1, Gold Coast as well as CBS News Correspondent.  He’s also the Director of his own company “Radio and News Partnerships”.



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