Sky News Catches Flak For MH17 Luggage Gaffe

The MH17 crash has provided several examples of news broadcasts going beyond the bounds of media ethics and good taste.
Posted at 6:21 PM, Jul 20, 2014

For journalists covering a disaster like the MH17 plane crash, there are some pretty obvious things you shouldn't do. For example: digging through the personal belongings of deceased passengers is probably a bad idea.

Unfortunately, Sky News reporter Colin Brazier may have been trying a little too hard to stir up some empathy in the viewers when he started rummaging through a suitcase during a shot.

"A set of keys, a toothbrush, I mean so ... We shouldn't really be doing this I suppose, really." 

To Brazier's credit, he does realize pretty quickly that he's just made the mistake of looking through a victim's belongings during a live shot and immediately attempts to segue into another topic.

Not long afterward, Sky News released a statement saying both Brazier and the network "apologize profusely for any offense caused."

Other journalists haven't been very forgiving, though. A BBC presenter said she was "Absolutely astonished"​ and another scolded the network, "Sky!!! Get your reporter to STOP rummaging thru belongings at #mH17 crash site."​ (Via Twitter / @JacquiOatley, Twitter / @ShelaghFogarty)

Another bad idea while covering MH17? Broadcasting dead bodies during a live shot. 

Which is exactly what the private, pro-Russian news site LifeNews did as one of the first outlets to arrive at the crash site. 

Though they've applied a blur to the ghoulish footage that's online now — the original livestream broadcast was unedited and showed multiple dead bodies. The decision has been widely criticized.

A Motherboard piece titled "How to Livestream Mass Death" compared the repeated rebroadcast of the footage to "an exponentially grislier version of CNN" and wondered if such scenes should be a part of the future of livestreaming.

"We're probably going to have to start being a bit more careful with how we engage livestreams. ... The real-life gore that once lurked deep in online forums is now on the brink of becoming a major factor in online journalism, a click away from anyone with a Twitter account.​"

And, in case you thought that was the last of it, BuzzFeed's Max Seddon has one more don't. 

"Journalists wandering amid the debris filing standups. This is why some people don't like us."