Seven News in social media backlash after deleting grieving mum’s angry comments

Linda Goldspink Lord Facebook commentsSeven News has apologised after it deleted comments from its Facebook page from a mother angry at the network’s coverage of her daughter’s death.

Seven claims it deleted the comment from Linda Goldspink-Lord “in error”. At the time of deletion, more than 32,000 people had liked the comment, and 2000 had commented.

Seven has also made the unusual claim that it has the means of reinstating the comments which were left over the weekend.

The comment from Mrs Goldspink-Lord accused the network of intrusive reporting of her 13-year-old daughter Molly Lord’s accidental death neat Wollongong in NSW on July 11. She stated:

“I am the mother of the beautiful Molly Lord who was killed on a quad bike last week. I would just like to let everyone know of the pain and harassment we suffered as a result of channel 7. 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 before I had even told all of my family. Channel 7 you are a disgrace and what should have been a private moment between a mother and get (sic) daughter was exploited for the sake of an exclusive story. You bastards.”

Chris Willis, director of news, at Seven News Sydney, said in a statement that the network’s report had now been removed from its website because of Mrs Goldspink-Lord’s “distress”. He also claimed in his statement that remarks would be reinstated:

“Mrs 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. We were not the only television station to visit the family’s property. Our reporter did go to the house but left immediately he was told the family wished to make no comment. Our reporters and camera crews know that grieving families have to be approached with sensitivity and compassion.”

It is unclear how Seven News believes it has the means of restoring the comments to its Facebook page. It has posted a screengrab of the original comment. But it is likely that the network will be unable to reinstate the 2000 comments from consumers that followed it.

As well as the large number of complaints on the network’s Facebook page, there are now a number of protest groups being created including “Justice for Linda Goldspink-Lord” which has already gained over 2,100 fans in 14 hours.

Last week, Mumbrella wrote about the growing number of social media blunders where brands delete negative comments made on their own Facebook pages. Recent examples have included Paspaley, Gloria Jeans and Comic Con Melbourne.


  1. Flyn
    23 Jul 12
    11:10 am

  2. Although there is quite a lot of coverage of these blunders here on Mumbrella and on twitter I suspect we’ll continue to see more and more of this sort of poor social media management for years to come.

  3. Chris Gander
    23 Jul 12
    11:34 am

  4. Disgraceful. It’s Social Media 101… have we not been down this road a hundred times already?

  5. Production Grunt
    23 Jul 12
    11:37 am

  6. “What?! Don’t we have a backup of all those comments on the server or something? Isn’t that what you’re paid for?!”

  7. Anon
    23 Jul 12
    11:50 am

  8. Technically they could have ‘hidden’ the comment and now ‘unhide it’. But doubtful.

  9. Tony Healy
    23 Jul 12
    11:51 am

  10. This is not just a social media blunder though, is it?

    There’s a grieving Mum with her daughter on private property and some cowboy in a chopper thinks he’ll get some good shots for the news.

    The news director, the reporter and the chopper pilot should all hang their heads in shame.

  11. Flo
    23 Jul 12
    12:08 pm

  12. Did the recent Paspaley Pearls incident not have any effect on 7? Poor effort

  13. Georgie
    23 Jul 12
    12:08 pm

  14. too hard core and nose to the blood trail means they’ll do anything to get the story – you don’t have to delve too deep into your emotions to know how you’d be feeling if it was your daughter…. shame….

  15. OtherAndrew
    23 Jul 12
    12:13 pm

  16. @Tony Healy,

    Kudos to you for nailing the real issue here. I’m disgusted by Channel Seven’s original actions, not their deletion of the mother’s comment.

  17. Any
    23 Jul 12
    12:14 pm

  18. It’s unfortunate that the social media and PR side of the story is now overshadowing the more important story which is the mother and her complaint about the reporter’s ethics and handling of the news story of her daughters death.

  19. zumabeach
    23 Jul 12
    12:16 pm

  20. This kind of intrusion has happened for decades and will continue to happen. For tabloid reporters, newspapers or TV, it’s Journalism 101 – get the story and the pictures, worry about the consequences later, but by then the wolf pack will have moved on to the next feeding frenzy. In the old days we used to call them “death knocks” – as in knocking on the front door of the grieving family. Some of the tabloid hacks, usually older guys, were highly skilled at it – always pat the family dog, talk to the kids, especially the little ‘uns, make yourself appear to be an average bloke or shiela who sympathises with an average family caught in extraordinary circumstances. Of course Channel 7 and the rest of them are sorry today – until the next time it happens which shouldn’t take too long.

  21. Greg
    23 Jul 12
    12:22 pm

  22. Anon – might be hard to explain the ‘accidently deleted’ line if that’s the case though.

  23. mediaman
    23 Jul 12
    12:27 pm

  24. Since when is journalism or electronic media about integrity?- lets be honest here, its about ratings and advertising revenue.

  25. Shabbadu
    23 Jul 12
    12:31 pm

  26. But this is how the media works. Every time there’s an accident or a crash or some kind of tragedy, they need to get their head shot of a distressed friend or relative to cut to in between a shot of the aftermath and vision of the reporter talking near ground zero. You can guarantee that thirty seconds after the police release the names of the victims, their next of kin’s phone will start ringing.

  27. RC
    23 Jul 12
    12:41 pm

  28. What a dreadful statement from Chris W – no actual apology or admission in relation to Mrs Lord’s claims, and a passing of the buck to other stations at the end? I agree that other media were likely there, but take accountability for what your teams did.

  29. Jorge
    23 Jul 12
    12:43 pm

  30. I think an apology for the mother’s invasion of privacy is in order not an apology for the ‘error’. Good one Chris.

  31. Mark Atkinson
    23 Jul 12
    12:44 pm

  32. Too right …. Seven News You bastards!

  33. Annabelle Drumm
    23 Jul 12
    1:00 pm

  34. Still, maybe it’s a sign of the pendulum swinging back that more people are noticing the breach of privacy and are willing to voice an opinion about it. This may be a move in the right direction…

  35. GC
    23 Jul 12
    1:01 pm

  36. WTH

  37. Darryl Mason
    23 Jul 12
    1:20 pm

  38. I don’t see the public demanding to see photos of dead people every time there’s been a tragic accident. Will people watch less news if they don’t show relatives grieving and intimate family moments? Of course not. Being “The First” to run such photos or footage is competition between rival journos, nothing to do with the public or their “demands.”

    Here’s a chance for all news media to pledge to respect the privacy of the bereaved, and make a positive change for the future.

    Who knows? Maybe after a year or two of news media showing respect for those grieving might stop journalists being thought of by Australians as more untrustworthy than used car salesmen..

  39. Louise
    23 Jul 12
    1:22 pm

  40. Tony Healy…. Spot on mate. Mark Atkinson… Spot on mate.

  41. Keji Adebeshin
    23 Jul 12
    1:24 pm

  42. @zumabeach.

    …And then there was social media. With the emergence of social media, companies can’t afford to “deal with it later.”

  43. LuLuBrella
    23 Jul 12
    1:25 pm

  44. Chris Willis, what kind of apology is that??? ABSOLUTELY Disgraceful. AND to blame another station too….. Shame on you!

  45. Sandi Logan
    23 Jul 12
    2:15 pm

  46. In the “old” days, reporters were routinely sent on “death knocks”. Those journos who thought better of the situation often undertook what was known as a “knock on the grass”, and not getting a response, left the house, and the grieving family alone. It seems the “knock on the grass” technique has either been lost, or there was pressure to get the yarn.

  47. Crap TV
    23 Jul 12
    2:26 pm

  48. Whilst it was 7 on this occasion; it could have been any of the awful 3 brain numbing Australian channels.

    If channels 7, 9 and 10 existed in the UK they would probably, nearly, give channel 5 a run for it’s money and 5 is the one channel on free to air, which is not taken seriously one little bit.

    7,9 and 10:
    – US re runs, spat out with little effort or care (apart from cramming them full to the brim with ad’s for junk food and gambling etc)

    – Free sport, however ruined by far too frequent ad breaks and egotistic commentary.

    – News. Can you call it news? Flippant, sensationalist fodda, spat out by awful so called journalists, who would sell their own family members for a story.

    These 3 channels are the laughing stock of Australian television. Why does it not surprise me one little bit about the actions of channel 7, terrorising this poor parent. It is quite disgusting what 7 have done here (social media actions aside) and heads should role at the station for these atrocities committed.

  49. anon1
    23 Jul 12
    2:50 pm

  50. > In the old days we used to call them “death knocks” – as in knocking on the front door of the grieving family. Some of the tabloid hacks, usually older guys, were highly skilled at it

    The problem is that the average reporter being sent out on this beat today is about 20 years younger with considerably less maturity. Those 20 years are the difference between experiencing tragedy in your own life and actually having genuine empathy as a result. It’s not only skill, but shared human feeling. (Yes you could fake it and I am sure some did, but it was genuine in a lot of cases).

    Today’s it’s just some young guy’s deadline and headline.

  51. zumabeach
    23 Jul 12
    3:23 pm

  52. @ Keji Adebeshin … True, social media is all over this sort of stuff very quickly now … but then it moves on just as quickly. In a day or two the harsh reality will be that this will be oh so yesterday and our ten second attention spans will have moved on to the next big whatever. The macarbe things about “death knocks way back then was that often those innocently caught up in dreadful situations – perhaps because they were traumitised and simply not thinking straight – willingly gave the practitioners of this dark art exactly what they wanted – photographs of victims and posed for pics, often in a distraught state, while giving the most personal of quotes. Reporters back then knew they were taking advantage of the vunerable just as Channel 7 and their ilk know the same now. Nothing has changed, despite what editors says – and if they can’t get what they want by knocking on the front door, they’ll sneak through the back door.

  53. Hacked off
    23 Jul 12
    3:57 pm

  54. Yes Channel 7 made a mammoth mistake a) sending journos and a chopper to film the family without permission and b) removing the comments and not even apologising – but why insult all journalists, especially tabloid ones?

    The unfair witch hunt of tabloid journalists is getting ridiculous and often when it comes to ‘death knocks’, although journalists dread them, the grieving families actually want to talk about their lost one.

  55. Darren Horrigan
    23 Jul 12
    4:23 pm

  56. As a former reporter on the now defunct Sydney afternoon tabloid The Sun, I did my share of death knocks. Often I even had a bunch of flowers with me, if you can believe that.

    The standard line was something like: “Hello Mrs X. My name is DH. I’m a reporter from The Sun. My apologies for calling at this time and I’m sorry for your terrible loss. But I wonder would you like to talk about X and by the way, do you have a photo of him we could borrow?”

    What people found hard to believe – and it’s probably still the case – is that a death knock was always a 50/50 bet. Half the time the door would slam, the other half we’d be invited in for tea and biscuits. An hour later you’d be trying to find a way to get out in time for the edition.

    As zumabeach says, we knew we were intruding on private grief. But we had papers to sell. Just like today.

  57. Crap TV
    23 Jul 12
    4:33 pm

  58. @ Hacked off

    a) and b) are two pretty good reasons why the tabloid press gets a bashing. If you compare it to the bashing’s given out by ACA or TT, it is miniscule in proportion though. Their witch hunts are pretty much daily.

    As for “the grieving families actually want to talk about their lost one.” I am not convinced that all grieving families want to speak publicly about their loss. Unless of course it might help catch a killer, or aid them in some sort of way (financially perhaps)? Sometimes families are fooled into giving up privacy by very smooth tabloid operators, who hit them up there and then after grabbing there info from a scanner and arriving on the scene alongside the emergency services.

    The tabloid press is synonymous with intrusion and poor practice.

    The girl who had a collar wrapped around her neck was hounded by the tabloid press, every day for about a month after the incident took place.

    Then there are the festivities under Murdoch’s watch in the UK, tapping into a dead girls mobile phones voicemail; being one of many awful things the tabloid press there have undertaken for the big scoop.

    The shock jocks here in Oz offer nothing but tripe and aggression. No balanced facts, just towing a one sided line, hard, furiously and without much substance.

    As a result the tabloid press is certainly tarnished in a knowledgeably persons eyes and slowly eroding itself to it’s core demographic as their access to better, more substantial information online increases.

    The people have a voice nowadays and as a result many businesses, people and institutions will have to and are having to change.

  59. Hacked off
    23 Jul 12
    9:37 pm

  60. @ Crap TV

    I agree with some of your comments but what I’m trying to say is that it isn’t just the tabloids that cause concern (and I’ve never heard of any getting their info from ‘scanners’).

    Most of the information for these kind of stories come from either tip offs, the emergency service lines (at least in the UK) that news agencies and reporters check every 30 minutes or so and/or from the emergency service and police sources.

    Yes phone hacking grieving families was/is abhorrent but after all those investigations there wasn’t any evidence proving that the NoTW either hacked or deleted those messages.

    Clearly hacking did happen in some outlets and yes it’s shocking but I doubt very much it was just Murdoch’s newspapers…or the tabloids.

    Tabloids get unfairly blamed for intrusion and poor practice but all qualified journalists, in the UK anyway, are bound by the PCC – unfortunately yes, sometimes they fall foul of it. But is it just the tabloids?

    Regarding ‘death knocks’ and the example you’ve given with the hounded girl who had the collar round her neck, often the broadsheets will put a local agency on the case, so it’s very much supply and demand – and with death knocks, like Darren said, it’s 50/50 whether the family wants to talk or not – they’re certainly not all tricked into it.

    Am totally with you regarding the shock jocks, Australian radio is tripe (but then as a BBC fan I’m biased!) and I agree that with the rise and power of the internet and social media things need to change, but it’s still evolving and has a long way to go.

    Despite its right-wing views the UK’s Daily Mail seems to be one of the few newspapers that are ‘getting’ it when it comes to online.

    The Mail still uses quality, trained journalists (though the subbing is sometimes atrocious) and is opening more offices around the world to cater for the online traffic.

    I think the major worry with most news outlets and newspapers is that, technology-wise, they are hugely behind the times and as newspapers turn into websites, they are slashing the numbers of experienced, qualified journalists redundant and replacing them with ‘writers’ to cut costs.

    Unfortunately this means the quality of content is reduced, and sloppy mistakes get made – an experienced reporter is properly trained in media law, local and social government, court reporting etc and has the experience so sniff out, craft and execute a story properly, as does his/her immediate editor and then the editor of the news outlet.

    Sadly as more and more quality journalists, especially in Australia, are getting snuffed out and replaced with writers who have no news experience, or even how to get and execute a story.

    And if court reporting etc dies a death and the police etc stop talking to journalists, which seems to be the aim with the current UK witch hunt, then does the public REALLY have access to better and more substantial information online?

    If these writers don’t have the knowledge – or interest – to check facts and be impartial, and just regurgitate what they’ve taken from another website, then it’s entering dangerous territory.

    To be fair, you only need to read the Australian weekly magazines for proof of this!

  61. Crap TV
    23 Jul 12
    10:48 pm

  62. @ Hacked Off

    I hear you loud and clear and I agree with you.

    I do think that quality journalists still have a lot of power (content is king) and there is a market for readers online who want substance.

    Old school business models are crippling the institutions. Journo’s should set up their own shops online and do their own thing. Do they really need the old flagships anymore?

  63. George
    24 Jul 12
    10:12 am

  64. Sadly this is nothing new. A Current Affair et. al. has been doing this for years – invading people’s privacy, publishing names without permission and making false claims to create a story. They prey upon vulnerable people for tv ratings.

  65. BJD
    25 Jul 12
    9:38 am

  66. @Crap TV. You seem to be pretty spot on with all you have said. Perfect summary of Australian TV “news” and ”current affairs” in your first post.

  67. Crap TV
    25 Jul 12
    10:07 am

  68. @BJD Thank you. – Although, ABC and SBS are Australian and I think they do a grand job.

    I feel that The ABC and SBS deliver excellent News broadcasts.

    I always watch QandA, although on a few occasions I feel the panels could be a lot stronger. Landline is fantastic. Four corners is generally excellent too.

    SBS’s Insight doesn’t do it for me though? I cant work out if it is Jenny the presenter or the design and format? The music doesnt get me going I must admit (it reminds me of daytime TV?)

    Channels 7, 9 and 10 leave me gasping in despair. Broadcasts such as 60 minutes and Sunday night: I gasp again. Big ego presenters “me, me, me”. Watch an episode of either and see how the presenter delivers to camera as if the audience either cannot hear, are lip readers or are 7 years old. Simply awful.

  69. Anonymous
    25 Jul 12
    10:59 am

  70. Well, journalism IS considered one of the least ethical professions for a reason.