Channel Seven has apologised to a mother who lost her teenage daughter in a quad-bike accident almost two weeks ago after her criticism of its news crew was removed from its Facebook page.
Linda Goldspink-Lord wrote of her anger on the Seven News Sydney Facebook page in a post that attracted more than 32,000 "likes" before it was removed.
She alleged the news station filmed her with the body of her 13-year-old daughter Molly Lord from a helicopter above a property at Kembla Grange, near Wollongong on July 11.
"I would just like to let everyone know of the pain and harassment we suffered as a result of channel 7," she wrote.
"A reporter was on our private property very soon after the accident and whilst Molly was still on the ground. He walked up to the house down to the stables anywhere looking for a story. I went outside at some point to go to her horse for some comfort when the channel 7 helicopter flew above me trying to get footage. My husband was overseas at the time of the accident but footage of myself sitting with my deceased daughter was put on the channel 7 website for the world to see see before I had even told all my family.
"Channel 7 you are a disgrace and what should have been a private moment between a mother and get daughter was exploited for the sake of an exclusive story. You bastards."
Ms Goldspink-Lord posted on Saturday after being unable to find her post on the Seven Facebook page: "What happened to My post ? Didn't you Like what I had to say about your gutter reporting tactics."
Channel Seven's Director of News, Chris Willis, said in a statement that Ms Goldspink-Lord's comments "were removed from our site in error. We apologise for that."
"Taking into account her understandable distress over the coverage of Molly's death, I did ask for the footage to be taken down. That happened but unfortunately her remarks were deleted as well. They are now being restored to our Facebook page. I would also like to stress that we have re-examined our reports into Molly's tragic death and can find no video showing Mrs Goldspink-Lord hugging her daughter," the statement said.
Mr Willis said other television stations also visited the property and that the Channel Seven reporter left after being told the family had no comment.
"Our reporters and camera crews know that grieving families have to be approached with sensitivity and compassion," he said.
A Facebook page called "Justice for Linda Goldspink-Lord" was set up in support of the family and has attracted more than 2000 "likes".
"I await for the day when ethics, integrity and sensitive compassion returns to journalism," one of the page's administrators posted yesterday. Other Facebook commentators wrote of their disgust for the media and journalists.
Social media expert Laurel Papworth said Channel Seven's removal of the post showed "a lack of experience by traditional media of community media" and "an unacceptable error".
"Instead of running stories continuously on how people on Facebook are losers, stalkers and time wasters (thereby insulting over [half of] the Australian population), TV stations should be taking a far more professional approach to community news engagement," she wrote in an email.
Ms Papworth added that the growth of social media meant traditional ways of news gathering had been circumvented.
"The challenge going forward is that now people can report their own stories, pass on stories to each other and give opinions on news gathered by friends and family, they won't understand why strangers/journalists still do what they do - coming knocking at the 'wrong time'," she wrote.
"In addition some of the darker side of journalism that has always been there will become apparent ... Whether it was Channel 7 or 9 is ultimately irrelevant - this grieving mother clearly had a bad experience with journalists who fight to remain relevant in an increasingly unfriendly (to media) world. The sheer number of comments and backlash online is from an Australian community that no longer supports their traditional newsgatherers!"
Quad bikes are now the biggest killer on Australian farms, The Sun-Herald reported yesterday.