Herald Sun editor claims Google accessed unpublished story which led to Logies leak

The Herald Sun has attacked both Google and ninemsn after it accidentally published online that Hamish Blake had won last night’s Gold Logie.

Simon Pristel, editor of The Melbourne based News Limited tabloid, claimed this morning that Google had accessed internal systems to get hold of an “unpublished” story. Google denies this.

Speaking on Triple M’s Melbourne breakfast show, Pristel claimed that Google had been able to search the company’s systems and “found” an unpublished story. Newspapers were given the results under a midnight embargo.

Meanwhile, in an official statement, the Herald Sun claimed that “at no time” was the story on its website.

The comments from the newspaper and Pristel appear to be at odds with a number of screengrabs of the Herald Sun around 90 minutes before the winner announcement.

The screengrab below appears to have been taken at 10.29pm, although it has a publish time within the story of midnight. It was published via twitter by Carly Findlay at 10.30pm last night. The official announcement came just after midnight.

herald sun hamish

A further screengrab was posted last night by musicfeeds.com.au.

herald sun logies 2

And another screengrab was published on Twitter at about 11.30pm. There is also a link to the Herald Sun website which now has the content removed: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/ipad/hamish-springs-golden-surprise/story-fn6bfkm6-1226327208677.

The Herald Sun issued a statement last night saying:

“Tonight, the name of the gold Logie winner was inadvertently and momentarily made available via Google prior to the winner being announced at the event in Melbourne. The error occurred during live testing of the Herald Sun’s new iPad application which is due for release in coming weeks.

“Live testing has been taking place for about a week. At no time did the Herald Sun publish the name of the winner on its website, iPad app or in Twitter. However, during the live testing, a link to an embargoed story naming the winner was momentarily created and published by Google. The link was discovered almost as soon as it had been created and immediately killed.

“The only media outlet to knowingly publish the winner’s name prior to it being announced was ninemsn.com.au – the website of the host broadcaster.”

Pristel went further this morning telling Triple M:

“It never appears on our website, it never appears on our iPad app. It turns out that Google had somehow searched into our system and found the story that was published in the paper but had never been published on the website.

“Clearly at our end we’ve got some sort of technical issue with our new iPad app that has allowed Google to go in and find an unpublished story.

“The all powerful Google has gone in and found something.”

A spokeswoman for Google told Mumbrella:

“While we strive to provide the freshest, most relevant search results on the Logies and more, Google can only index material already published on the web.

“Google gives webmasters full control over the pages that appear in search. You can read more about how it works here: http://googleblog.blogspot.com.au/2007/01/controlling-how-search-engines-access.html

“Congratulations to Hamish Blake for his big win.”

A spokeswoman for ninemsn told Mumbrella that the Herald Sun’s comments were “ludicrous”. She said: “We reported on  the fact that News Limited had published it.” She conceded that in similar circumstances in the future, the site would probably report that the name of thw winner had leaked, but not publish the name.


  1. Nick
    16 Apr 12
    10:38 am

  2. Here’s an idea. Show the logies live (or on a small delay if Kyle Sandilands is going to open his mouth) and then there wouldn’t be this issue.

  3. Bogues
    16 Apr 12
    10:40 am

  4. What a load of bollocks from the Herald Sun paper. Google doesn’t hack into newspaper web sites to get their news. And even if Google did find the ‘unpublished’ article Herald Sun still put to it on their website before the embargo was lifted.

    Google tweeted this morning
    Google gives webmasters full control over the pages that appear in search. You can read more about how it works here: http://bit.ly/INNf3z

  5. Craig
    16 Apr 12
    10:41 am

  6. Ha ha. Trying to blame Google for an oversight on their part is ridiculous. They are trying to make it sound like Google hacked their system where in reality their system allowed search engines, and possibly general users with the right know how, to access stories before their publish time.

  7. sara
    16 Apr 12
    10:56 am

  8. Does anyone seriously stay up past midnight to watch the end of the Logies?Thank you Herald Sun I say.

  9. Ann
    16 Apr 12
    10:56 am

  10. The show was late, so the Herald Sun through it would be announced by then

  11. Joel
    16 Apr 12
    10:58 am

  12. Memo to Herald Sun reps: the correct response is “We screwed up. We’re sorry. The editor and CIO are being disciplined as we speak. We published what we should not have in an environment we should not have. Google indexed it and it was available for all to see. We’ve learnt our lesson and will be far more careful when testing in the future.”

  13. panda1
    16 Apr 12
    10:59 am

  14. HAHA! so they prepared the content, someone accidentally published it to the production environment instead of staging/edit and Google indexed it. Own up to the mistake and you wont look like an idiot thrashing around in a pile of the proverbial with a brown oar. And to blame Google for “hacking’ your systems would be to entice legal action from Google. Oops, gotta go, Googles changing the channels on my TV again!

  15. PG
    16 Apr 12
    11:14 am

  16. Pristel: what an arrogant lying little ****

    Oh no – I didn’t say that, but I did think it and the all powerful Google has hacked into my brain and published my thoughts. Damn you evil Google.

    This shows two things: a complete lack of humility by News Limited editors, and a real lack of digital smarts. A badly handled PR botch up too.

    But hang on a minute, this may be part of Herald Sun’s new paywall strategy, with the digital pass offering all the news and gossip fit to print – before the embargo.

  17. Aaron
    16 Apr 12
    11:23 am

  18. That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard. Google can’t index content that’s not there, Herald Sun! If it’s not in a section that you allow, how can it be scraped?


  19. Phanotmas
    16 Apr 12
    11:24 am

  20. I see at least 3 ads in that screengrab.

    Musicfeed, you need to install adplockplus. It lowers the amount you download, improves security and prevents some unwanted data-mining and online tacking.

    And as a bonus, it removes the ads.

  21. Peta
    16 Apr 12
    11:35 am

  22. As if Google would even give a shit about who won the loogies. Ridiculous.

  23. Devil's advocaat
    16 Apr 12
    11:45 am

  24. Simon Pristel – great future in digital publishing!

  25. Suz
    16 Apr 12
    12:34 pm

  26. Online Editor last night: “I’m going to get this piece done and schedule it to go live for midnight so I can f*ck off home and get some sleep. The Logies are crap anyway…. OH SH!T…. OH SH!T OH SH!T OH SH!T OH SH!T OH SH!T… I pressed the wrong button. F*CK! KILL IT. KILL IT. KILL IT. Oh well – it’s not like anyone’s going to see it. I hope. Sh!t.”

    Online Editor this morning: “The googles stole my homework”

  27. CC
    16 Apr 12
    12:47 pm

  28. Simon and Pippa Leary should get together and talk about content voids.


  29. John Sharples
    16 Apr 12
    1:47 pm

  30. I think the real question should be HOW Hamish Blake won a Gold Logie at all. The “star” of a PANTS show that BOMBED in the ratings and yet he’s considered worthy of a Golden Logie.
    If I were a previous winner I’d be handing mine back in disgust m’self!
    I think that really sums up the standard of mediocrity that’s celebrated here in Australia. The parts of the show that I watched was a cringefest and I happily turned off and read a book instead.

  31. Ron Jeremy
    16 Apr 12
    1:56 pm

  32. Well said, John Sharples.

  33. Nic Halley
    16 Apr 12
    2:16 pm

  34. News accusing Google of hacking.
    Pot. Kettle. Black.

  35. Ben
    16 Apr 12
    2:21 pm

  36. Wasn’t Rupert planning on removing News Corp sites from Google when they went paywall? Whatever happened to that? http://news.sky.com/home/business/article/15446006

  37. Offal Spokesperson
    16 Apr 12
    2:32 pm

  38. How exciting…The news Ltd paywall, bringing you the news before it happens…oh wait, theyve been doing that with election results etc for years.

  39. juice
    16 Apr 12
    2:41 pm

  40. John, you have to look at who votes. It explains a LOT.

  41. Rina Ferris
    16 Apr 12
    2:44 pm

  42. I’ll always remember the arguments I had with them when they broke an embargo and published the winners of the Golden Guitar Awards in 2009 while the event was still happening. Melbourne said it was Sydney’s fault and Sydney said they were lying. How’s that for playing nicely?
    There’s way more dignity in owning your f*** ups and admitting when you’ve screwed up than pointing fingers

  43. Peter
    16 Apr 12
    4:44 pm

  44. IMHO publicists shouldn’t offer embargoed information and publishers shouldn’t agree to them.
    It’s an outdated concept based on print and broadcast news cycles — it’s bad for punters because it locks journalists into playing by PR rules and restricts the free flow of information.
    There are dozens and dozens of broken embargos every year ranging from accidental releases on AAP’s automated wire service to the early publishing of periodical stories, to web stuff ups like this one – and yes, deliberately ignored *unsolicited* embargos.
    If we must have these old fashioned systems we have to expect they will break down in this race-to-publish environment.

  45. Harry
    16 Apr 12
    5:02 pm

  46. Who cares about Logies?

  47. Simon
    16 Apr 12
    5:26 pm

  48. You can’t expect a Good Australian TV Awards Show when there is very little Good Australian TV.

  49. Jacob
    16 Apr 12
    6:34 pm

  50. Which possibility is funnier:

    – That Pristel thinks the public is stupid enough to buy that explanation or;
    – Pristel actually believes it himself?

    It really could go either way – and the culture at News is so bloody peculiar that either could reasonably be the truth, as well.

  51. James Mathews
    16 Apr 12
    9:50 pm

  52. I think that it needs to be true and secret and media should not even get the envelope until just walking out to present which would make a lot of sense and media outlets shouldn’t be given heads up at all it should all just be a surprise and the bookies shouldn’t be able to have any betting wagged on the event as all of these event should have betting band and I think it is right to do so!!!

  53. Johnny Boy
    17 Apr 12
    4:25 pm

  54. Rina, perhaps they should stop publishing the PR you supply them on a regular basis, might solve the problem

  55. audrey
    18 Apr 12
    8:39 pm

  56. always a smart move to blame technology you don’t understand for your own f-ck up.

    v classy response from google.