A call from a distraught interstate Victorian driver was the final straw for former truckie-turned Labor Senator for WA Glenn Sterle.
The driver, who did not want to be named, was the innocent victim of a prang with a car in Sydney that resulted in graphic chopper footage being broadcast later that night on 7News in NSW.
Fortunately, there were no fatalities, or life-threatening injuries as a result, but at no stage did the report attempt to exonerate the distressed truckie.
The Senator, who is also the Shadow Assistant Minister for Road Safety, has now written to Bridget Fair, the CEO of Free TV Australia, which polices industry standards, asking her to review the report.
Sterle believes that this incident is yet another clear breach of the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice that calls for media to present factual material accurately and ensure viewpoints are not misrepresented.
“Not at any point did the report by 7News Sydney attempt to say that the truck driver was not at fault,” writes Sterle.
“It may, to you and others in the media, seem like this isn’t a “big deal”. I hope I am wrong, but to the owner and driver of the truck, to who many in the industry know and recognise, it is a huge deal.”
Sterle tells Big Rigs that he’s still to get a response to his missive, but he won’t be letting the matter rest.
He says the truckie in the incident is already paying a heavy price from the crash. He had to stump up for a hotel that night, hire a car to get back to Melbourne and with his prime mover written off, his days as an interstate driver are now behind him.
“I’ve seen this type of reporting too many times; it always makes us look like the baddie,” says Sterle, who was on the receiving end himself during his driving days when a motorist ploughed into one of his road train trailers.
“I don’t think it hurts anyone to say the truck driver wasn’t at fault.”
Sterle’s social media followers were quick to show their support when he posted the letter to Free TV Australia on his Facebook page.
Writes Robyn Cooper-Radke: “How I hate major media with a passion who use their own choppers to hover & zoom in on any heavy vehicle accident involving smaller vehicle.
“Both Channel’s 7 & 9 were really bad for doing this in Brisbane a few years ago, with Channel 7 being the worst of the two.
“For those who know me, I would instantly call newsroom, knowing full well the conversation was being recorded, and give it to the News Producer with both barrels.
They made no attempt to block out the company name, and filming Emergency Workers attempting to extract deceased driver from wreckage.
Thank you to Senator Glenn Sterle for calling Channel 7 out on this particular accident footage.
Adds Cameron Byrom: “Good stuff mate! About time news journos were held to account. Fear mongering from one sided reporting does nothing to help us or the general public.”