Former BBC Breakfast host and Channel 5 newsreader Sian Williams has spoken out against the decision by various news outlets to run a photograph of UKIP politician Steven Woolfe in the moments following the attack that left him in hospital.
Speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, Williams observed that journalism can get “too close” to events, adding, “sometimes I think we put a camera where we shouldn’t.”
She went on to cite yesterday’s reported attack on Steven Woolfe which saw the UKIP politician taken to a Strasbourg hospital in what was initially thought to be a life threatening condition following an alleged punch-up during a row at a party meeting in the French city.
ITV News obtained a picture of Woolfe sprawled on the floor, seemingly unconscious, an image that was subsequently run by various broadcasters and news outlets.
Williams – who is the main presenter of 5 News at 5 – revealed she “had a conversation in the office” about the photograph and whether it should be used.
“When it came in, I was watching it on television – I saw it on ITV, the picture – and this was when we thought he was in a very serious condition, a life-threatening condition, and I said, ‘You can’t run that picture. We cannot run it – this is a man who may die, who is in a life threatening condition.’ Why does the audience, why do any of us, need to see this? We don’t – we don’t need to see him suffering.”
Asked by chair and fellow broadcaster Libby Purves whether she won, Williams answered: “I did, actually. But I don’t always because when you’re in an office full of journalists you get healthy debate across the newsroom.
She added: “I think the thing that made the difference actually was that [Woolfe] then said that he was fine and once we knew he was fine, it was a safe picture to use.
“I think at the time it was used, it should not have been used because we thought he might not get through and I think we get too close.”