An open letter to Sky News

Sky News

Dear Sky News

Yesterday, it was brought to my attention that you had invited Peter Andre onto your news channel for an interview with Kay Burley. In that interview, discussion turned to Andre’s personal issues involving his kids, which he brought up with former wife Katie Price. Burley proceeded to show him a clip of Dwight Yorke, an ex-partner of Price’s, talking about Andre’s role as a father on the same news channel in a recent interview. After responding angrily to this piece of footage, the conversation continued until he started to tear up and then proceeded to promptly stop the interview.

This entire piece of broadcasting angered me yesterday. Here are the three main reasons why it did so:

This isn’t news

There are lots of things that happen in this crazy, complicated, misunderstood world that we live in. In case you’ve forgotten, here’s my list of news-worthy topics from yesterday:

  • The debate over electoral reform.
  • Peter Robinson returning to Northern Irish politics.
  • A scan that ‘unlocks’ the minds of vegetative patients.
  • Toyota recalling hundreds of cars.

This is just a small sample. You may or may not have run stories on these subjects yesterday but the point is that there are tons of news stories that you could be devoting time to that have more news value than the interview you aired.

Instead of devoting time to actual stories, you took a story that in itself isn’t a story and is only considered one because a few people in this country have heard of the people involved. At what point is this news? This isn’t going to affect anyone other than the parties involved. Whilst you can argue that Andre did agree to come on your news channel in the first place and that he would be possibly aware of the fact that this subject could have come up, the fact remains tthat this isn’t worthy of airtime. What is worthy of airtime are stories that affect us in some way and stories that we need to know.

Also, don’t even think about countering with the claim that this is something that people want to know. That may be true, but these people can surely go to some trashy media outlet like Heat magazine or wherever it is that followers of showbiz news get their ‘gossip’ from. The audience for gossip news already has places to go to. It doesn’t need the attention of a rolling news channel.

The way you handled the interview was atrocious

There were several uncomfortable moments in the interview. The way you managed to work in showing a clip of Dwight Yorke talking trash about your interviewee from a previous equally un-newsworthy interview was eerily similar to some of the sensationalising tactics used by Jeremy Kyle on his diabolical TV program. At one point, such were the similarities, I was expecting Graham from that same program to come in with his viewpoint. Well, until I remembered that you annoyed him around this time last year.

That’s beside the point though.

What you did was very similar to what an internet troll would do: show/say something that is likely to irritate its target and then watch that target cling onto the bait. What’s more, matters were certainly not helped by Kay Burley, who aggravated things further by asking how he would feel if Alex Reid, the current partner of Price, were to adopt the kids. This is what ultimately led to the sudden stoppage of the interview. This wasn’t so shocking, because Burley has a pretty long track record of asking questions that go far over the line of what is acceptable and she does it with very little tact. Why does she do it? I suspect that it might be to gain publicity for her own self-gain. Either way, it just showed how much of a mockery she makes of news talent.

It’s why channels like yours should never be allowed to exist

You’re under constant pressure to provide viewers with news. There is nothing wrong with repeating news on an hourly loop, however boring it is, if it is actual news. Why? Because that’s what you should be doing. This kind of segment smacks of a news channel that has run out of ideas. Why do you not have the time to actively hunt news stories? Why do you have to rely on pointless entertainment gossip to fill up time? Most importantly perhaps, if you can’t find enough actual news stories to fill up your day, what is the point of a channel like yours even existing?

I was pretty disgusted after watching the interview. It wasn’t just me though. There are comments all over the news page of that story on your website like these (albeit slightly edited for grammatical and spelling reasons):

OMG Sky News you should be ashamed of yourselves, this man has to deal with the break up of his marriage and not seeing his kids as often as he would like. How dare you ask him what he would feel like if Alex Reid asked to adopt his kids. Just because he is a celebrity it does not give any of us the right to ask them hurtful questions. I am that disgusted that I will no longer search for the news on your site.

Natalie Rossa

What a nasty, nasty, hurtful thing to do to someone. He may have been the one to end his marriage, that doesn’t mean it hurts any less when he sees the nasty little piece of trash he was married to parade her (cough) love all over the papers as is her way. She is a money headline grabbing nasty piece of work. To ambush someone in this way is not news, it’s dirt of the highest order. Sky News should be ashamed…appalled!

John

I want to know where I can leave an official complaint, this interview was disgusting. How Kay had the nerve to say those stupid hurtful questions…basically asking how he would feel losing his kids because his ex got remarried. Kay should be ashamed. Sky News is supposed to be about news, not trying to coax an amazing father into fighting for his kids. She is in no way a proper journalist!!

Tracy Gardner

The search term ‘Kay Burley’ also popped up as a trending topic on Twitter very quickly after the video of the interview hit the internet, such was the furore.

So, here’s a suggestion that I made yesterday on Twitter, but slightly more sensibly-phrased. Why don’t you report some news? You know, in the way that a news channel should operate? After all, your channel name has the word ‘news’ in the title…

Yours,

Max Raymond

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4 thoughts on “An open letter to Sky News

  1. Excellent points. I agree 100%. While I have no idea what happened between Andre and Jordan (thankfully) as I live outside the UK now, Andre appears to have been ambushed.

    The provocative questions were uncalled for. While other interviewers might ask hard questions (Jeremy Paxman, or maybe BBC Hard Talk interviewers), Burley hits below the belt to provoke Andre’s emotion.

    Disgusting.

    The only good thing that came out of this interview is that Peter Andre demonstrated a firm resolve regarding his children and Harvey.

  2. Good letter. Sky News have always irritated me, so perhaps i’m not the most impartial, but still, Kay Burley has “trolled”; she has purposely set out to upset him.

    The public’s attention is like the Eye of Sauron, to be really geeky, and it is fixed firmly on Burley and Sky. This is exactly what they set out to do, and I’d like Ofcom to put them in their place.

    They are a news outlet, not a sensationalism broadcaster. This is not news. It’s not interesting. It’s not wanted and most of all it’s not journalism. They give us honest journos a bad name, and it needs to be stopped.

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