Right now much of the UK is wrapped up in the search for April Jones, a 5-year-old Welsh girl who went missing four days ago. Villagers have been out combing fields and streets for Jones, but today police announced that she was most likely dead.
Sky News reporter Kay Burley decided to tell members of a volunteer search party the news, live on air.
Burley’s actions created a storm in the UK. British MP Tom Watson tweeted after it was aired:
Kay Burley: Insensitive bordering on cruel. Is breaking news so important that you have to forget your humanity?
— tom_watson (@tom_watson) October 5, 2012
It’s a big controversy, but nothing unusual for Burley.
She’s a Sky News veteran, and one of the most well-known TV news personalities in the UK (and even wrote an erotic novel about life in the London media elite). However her style of reporting and interviewing subjects has long been derided, especially by those on the left who view her as the worst embodiment of the Rupert Murdoch-style of insensitive journalism.
One of her first controversies was an interview with former pop star and UK tabloid mainstay Peter Andre. Andre was on to talk about his new album, but Burley instead spoke about his ex-wife and children. Andre eventually broke down in tears and ended the interview and Burley’s questions lead to a wave of complaints.
Another interview about the Murdoch phone hacking scandal with a British MP Chris Byrant turned into a full on argument. Bryant later demanded an apology from Burley, but she refused.
Burley’s “bullying” interview of student protester in 2010 lead to a campaign to get her sacked. She was later heckled by a protester who shouted “Sack Kay Burley. Watch the BBC. Sky News is shit.” on live TV. The phrase “Sack Kay Burley” became a top Twitter trend.
Despite these controversies, there’s never been any indication that Burley was really in any trouble with Sky News, and it seems unlikely she will after today’s incident.
Burley’s supporters say she is being unfairly picked on due to the fact she is an attractive yet assertive female journalist.
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