A public apology from our CEO

A public apology from our CEO

Last Updated: 3 months ago

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Hi, I’m Sam, my role is being Chief Executive officer; I manage most of the companies business side of things while my employees gather the knowledge to create fantastic news that matters for New Zealand. 

Recently with the COVID-19 status, we’ve lacked dry on articles, and we don’t want to go down the path of “Coronavirus this, Coronavirus that” as traditional media do. Yes, it’s informative, but it’s not okay for us to mislead people, especially during these challenging times. 

We plan to make stories for the community to let them know what’s up; it’s about what’s developing as it is happening.

About a situation:
Recently, I went to take photographs of a scene that was reported as a moderate medical incident on our news network (for those that do not know what this is: our news network is a partnership with numerous people in far abroad and close communities that give us tips or easier said reports of current affairs and events.

Throughout times, my team and I have worked to report articles on numerous scenes where they involve Police, EMS and Fire. 

When we film or take photos of any of these, we always approach one officer or commander in charge of the scene for permissions before taking any action. In some cases, we may use other sources to report on a scene as soon as possible, and this does some times include calling up the appropriate official numbers or connections with our news network to find out more information.

For example, if it’s a news network-related situation:
we will make sure that person can send us a photo or video of what’s happening if possible… we have exclusive rights through their contract to own the footage and use it for any means. Of course, at times, when Police are busy; waiting is the best thing to do, especially from a distance, in this case, we will in no way document the scene without permissions.

A recent article we made:
A house fire alert was sent to us through our media network; the light was based in Levin, I had driven to the scene with camera gear. I went to each roadblock of each street to confirm where the best place would be to ask for permissions. At this point, I exited my car and walked over to one of the FireNZ people blocking the road. I showed the FireNZ person my press badge. (this badge is authorized by our company. It confirms we are press attending the scene to take photos of the current event. Our press badges have an RFID chip, QR Code and Barcode that is scannable, just in case the appropriate people in charge need to find out more information about who I am or my colleges are quick.

When I arrived at the scene I had asked who was in charge, the FireNZ person said, please wait; I waited for about 12 minutes before I had gotten the man in charge to come over and speak to me because he was busy; I didn’t interfere. Although, as this house was on fire before the man in charge had talked to me, the house owners were outside looking distressed & Police were talking to them. 

Another media agency was attending—I cannot name them, but they start with S and end with F. As the media agency members were visiting, they consistently kept asking questions to the house owners as Police were trying to talk to them first; keep in mind, I had waited patiently for permissions clearance. Meanwhile, the agency had already posted the article on their website with the house clearly in the shot on fire, and I saw them take the photo without even asking the house owners first. 

Upon refreshing their website after about 5 minutes on my phone, to see that the photo was taken; it wasn’t on the house property, but the agency had a sneaky idea of going to the property next door to get a picture of the houses fire. That clearly shows they had no permission to be on the house owners property to take photos, but instead went to a neighbouring house to do so. This is just my statement and my opinion from what I saw. 

I never decided to ask the house owners for permissions in the end because I felt terrible. I just took a photo of one of the fire trucks. Sticking around for a good two hours to document the scene, in the end, the FireNZ man in charge did speak to me and gave me all the details of how the fire started etc. We never wanted to portray a bad story but just an informative story. Later that day, we also got an OIA (Official information act) on the whole gist of what had happened by FireNZ. 

We then updated the rest of our article.

In regards to Saturday at 7:40 pm:
I had gone out shopping and noticed lots of lights in one direction. I pulled over and checked my laptop, on the media network it stated there was a ‘moderate medical incident’ – this was before it had been said to be a death. I took photos and sent them off to my news team to keep on file until I get more information, unfortunately, after about 8:00 pm the network went silent. 

I was, therefore, submitting an Official Information Act that night not too long after that had happened. 

Overnight I constantly checked on the scene as I drive past every few hours. After 8:00 pm I’d initiated my team to create a news article immediately with a disclaimer stating we’ve submitted an OIA on the report as I knew this was bigger than a moderate medical incident after seeing numerous police vehicles & investigation vehicles arrive. 

Early Sunday morning, I had sent one of my cameramen to take photos. Before my cameraman took photos, he initially asked the officers guarding to the property if he could take pictures! He also gave his information to the Police to let them know who he is after the Police said he had permission. My cameraman got photos of what he could, and he took pictures of the Police line that barricades the gate and the investigation vehicles. Keep in mind, Police wished to have no photos taken of the house, indoors or have pictures with them in it. 

That media agency that I mentioned earlier that starts with S and ends with F had taken images from the road inside the house and of the officers guarding the scene. We made real, reasonable precautions, and we always will when it comes to scenes like this to get permission first.

In regards to Sunday night at about 6:50 pm, we made our final article on the confirmation from the Police and OIA that there had been a 33-year-old man charged with murder from Saturday nights incident. 

What we did wrong was post an image of an Instagram user that had recently uploaded posing outside a St John Ambulance and the post was quoted “Had to call the ambulance for the bro why not take advantage of the lighting.” 

We initially were going to add a paragraph stating that this was stilly to do right after a homicide scene. Before doing so, our article researcher (that I will not name) thought that this could be the accused person. It looked like the same scene from Saturday night. I my self did further research to get an answer by messaging the account a question, the account left us on seen through our company Instagram messaging. 

As I’m trying to gather more information, I told my article researcher to not post it for now. Still, as I get into bed, about 10 minutes later, I get a ping on my phone that the published article was updated. I checked the report and saw that it was added without my clearance; I immediately requested that it be removed, and within 13 minutes and 58 seconds, the image was removed globally. 

The person accused had sent a mass amount of people to message not just me on all social media including my personal pages that are for my family posts “hateful messages” but to all of our company email inboxes & authors social media accounts – I decided and didn’t want to respond to them immediately without legal advice from a lawyer, it’s now a day later speaking about this. 

The accused person was demanding that we publicly apologize, which we did on all social media’s and the person responsible personally messaged the accused person a formal apology. The accused person wanted to have us publicly say his name. 

Benji Gaby was the accused person involved; we publically apologize for our mistake on the company end of management. We promise this will never happen ever again as we learn from this mistake.

Anyone that has seen this coverage before the image was removed; respect that we have removed his image from all of our social systems, and, the image cannot be found under our name. Bear in mind, and other people may have images or screenshots, so in that case, we cannot do anything much about that from within the 13 minutes and 58 seconds that the image was live.

For information on why the image may have of been live for longer on our article, this is due to something on Google Chrome or any browser called cookies and cache; this stores any updates made for 15 minutes roughly or longer depending on if someone has closed and restarted their browser. The image gets refreshed once that does happen, or if the user exits the page entirely and researches it; it will update the article.

In regards to the Instagram post; my article researcher failed to do more research into the post, but since they were impatient, they have got a talking too & a warning out of three. 

They will also be taking a paid leave for a week, we didn’t want to do this during this time (COVID-19 Pandemic), but it’s for the best to allow them to reflect on what they have done wrong.

If the image were to be taken at the scene regardless, even if it was taken elsewhere since Benji Gaby has a large reputation for his Security work; posting that image to a public Instagram account might not be the right choice with the quotes mentioned above. This most likely misleads our researcher into thinking that a possible photo was taken before Police could confirm that person was making up a story about someone passing out or not to be arrested (that was the theory and not fact from my article researcher statement.)

Our offer to Benji is to write voluntarily a short story about the importance of not taking pictures of yourself at a homicide (if it were to be at that scene)

But in the end, where ends meet on both sides of the story:
We are wrong, we have apologized publically and personally; this will not happen again, and we hope to share better stories once we can get back out into filming still. We apologize for any damages we have made.

The company is pushing for a TMZ style of media, but we’ll learn from this mistake, and we promise it will never happen again. 

We want to make sure our stories are top-notch, and as we grow as a company, we’re going to make mistakes like everyone else. Learning is critical, and we can only learn from our readers about our mistakes.

And if you need to contact me (Sam!), please reach out at https://thisquality.com/contact-us/ – thank you!!

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