September 30, 2003


David Marr may think ABC reporter Gina Wilkinson only deserves a harsh lesson for encouraging Iraqi children to play Hamas activist with potentially explosive missile launchers, but Media Watch viewers -- some of whom could use spellcheck -- want her to be fired:

”Good on you for busting Gina Wilkinson. Are these people crazy? Doing a story on the danger to children of unexploded ordnance, and then getting them to play on it. She should be sacked. I think it is disgraceful.”

”I congratulate Media Watch for your work in presenting this dispicable act, however I remain at a loss as to what kind of person puts children on a missile launcher for a good story. She deserves not only to be sacked as a journalist, but repremanded for her inhuman act. This is not just an error of judgment - she new the facts and she disregarded them for a good story. Gina - your acts are dispicable, discusting and unforgivable.”

”She is certainly a criminal and should be sued for crime. It is not enough to scak her but even that the ABC management has not done due to unseen interest in her and her crimes which you ought to dig deep into to bring to the surface. I am going to sue her and ABC on behalf of teh Iraqi children who she tried to murder by forcing them to stand over the misiles.”

”Thank you Media Watch for exposing Jenna Wilkinson's shocking ethics. Not only did she disgrace journalism and the ABC, she displayed shocking personal values and was a disgrace to her family ...The ABC should take immediate action. I don’t want to see another news story delivered from this person again. I was sickened.”

”I beleive that Gina Wilkinson should be sacked for here recently exposed efforts in Iraq. Obviously she new that she was asking for the kids to be put into harms way ...”

Unlike Stephen Crittenden, Wilkinson thus far hasn’t even been suspended.

Posted by Tim Blair at September 30, 2003 08:23 PM

IANAL but this may just come under the heading of "Child Abuse", and be subject to criminal prosecution. It's certainly "reckless endangerment".

A letter to the Attorney General may be in order. Mere Firing is not sufficient, a hefty custodial sentence seems more appropriate.

Posted by: Alan E Brain at September 30, 2003 at 08:28 PM

Blair -- you are dispicable.

Posted by: Frank at September 30, 2003 at 08:48 PM

incorrect frank. the spelling is "dithpicable".

Posted by: roscoe p coltrane at September 30, 2003 at 09:15 PM

I took my spelling from the letter above. But you correctly interpret my reference.

Posted by: Frank at September 30, 2003 at 09:28 PM

I thought child abuse is part of Muslim culture. Therefore, Gina should be honored for her cultural sensitivity when traveling to a strange and distant land.

Her next report will use children to locate landmines planted by the racist haters of Islam.

Posted by: Perfectsense at September 30, 2003 at 09:53 PM

Gotta love that part at the beginning (a segue from the prior segment, I assume) about how The Australian was a big supporter of the war and is still fudging the facts. I guess David Marr's made it official: the ABC, a taxpayer-funded arm of the state, declares that supporting the war makes you a liar. If I paid Australian taxes for that sort of thing, I'd be petitioning the government for the right to give Marr a swift kick in the butt.

Posted by: Combustible Boy at September 30, 2003 at 10:40 PM

"- (trans) Come on sweetie. What’s her name?
- Noona"

It's for the Children.

Posted by: LB at October 1, 2003 at 12:25 AM

Missed the Monty Burns moment in the transcripts.

"Gina Wilkinson: Excellent."


Posted by: LB at October 1, 2003 at 12:27 AM

A copy of a letter I've sent off to (Geoff's email is if any of you want to ask him direct)

Subject: Inquiry on UNICEF connections to unsound journalistic practice

Dear Sir/Madam,

On August 19 2003, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation broadcast an article by journalist Gina Wilkinson (wife of UNICEF media officer Geoff Keele) on unexploded ordinance. Media analysis television program "Media Watch" ran an article ( ) indicating that Gina Wilkinson ordered Iraqi children to stand on a missile launcher, and to walk around the missile twice.

Putting Iraqi children at risk like this is inexcusable. I wish to enquire as to UNICEF's role, if any, in this unacceptable stunt.

A reply ( ) to questions posed by Media Watch stated that "It is worth noting that UNICEF had no compunction about taking the media to the sites [of unexploded ordinance]". Is this correct?

UNICEF media officer Geoff Keele (husband of the journalist involved) had released a media release on unexploded ordinance.

Has Geoff Keele in particular, or any UNICEF employee in general, participated in, or knew about, Gina Wilkinson's article, in particular her ordering of kids to pose with unexploded ordinance? If so, are there plans for disciplinary action?

Yours sincerely,

[my nom de real life]

Posted by: Andjam at October 1, 2003 at 01:07 AM

If the interpreter were a former Iraqi ministry of truth worker, there's a possibility the children may have taken the request not as a request but as an order.

Posted by: Andjam at October 1, 2003 at 01:14 AM

To be fair, this is a bit of a beat-up.

The damn rocket wasn't going to just blow up, and perhaps it wasn't fuelled anyway.

It's a little disturbing that the imagery was somewhat staged, but the way those kids were standing there, there wasn't much pretence about that anyway.

More interesting is this Unesco claim about 1000 dead country-wide due to unexploded cluster bombs and ordnance. This sounds ridiculously large - doesn't even pass the taste test.

Posted by: akpm at October 1, 2003 at 03:40 AM

If it's a beat-up, Wilkinson is screwed either way:

1: The story was about dangers that DON'T exist, but which the story claimed, or ...

2: The story was about dangers that DO exist, and which the children were exposed to.

Posted by: tim at October 1, 2003 at 04:19 AM

Gina believed that there was a risk to the children - she muttered to herself stuff about hoping it won't blow up.

Posted by: Andjam at October 1, 2003 at 09:48 AM

Bahahahah "she should be sued for crime." Moron. Criminal and civil cases are seperate.

Posted by: Red Engineer at October 1, 2003 at 10:14 AM

How about a competition on a suitable punishment?

My entry:

Do an article on how dangerous it is for a journalist to stand next to a parent who has just been told that his/her kids have been recklessly put in danger.

Posted by: Andjam at October 1, 2003 at 11:40 AM

It is going to be really interesting to see what "punishment" the ABC is going to give her. We can use this instance as the ABC yardstick for all future transgressions. Maybe there is a different rule books used for punishing those who are deemed to be on the left and right?

note: rhetorical question contained in above statement....

Posted by: Rob at October 1, 2003 at 12:06 PM

Gina comes from the school of hard knocks journalism that asks: anybody here been raped and speaks English?

Posted by: Maxi at October 1, 2003 at 05:26 PM