Peter Meakin: Wawa call “beyond the pale”

Seasoned news boss Peter Meakin, has slammed the recent revelation by former Nine News boss Garry Linnell that it was he who made the call to alert Indonesian authorities a Today Tonight crew was filming without proper permits in 2006.

Linnell, was the director of News and Current Affairs at Nine when Naomi Robson & crew were hoping to rescue six year old Wawa from a fate involving cannibalism.

Writing in the New Daily and oddly inspired by Tom Gleeson’s Logie speech about the industry taking itself too seriously, he said, “I wrestled with the dilemma. There were ethical issues to ponder. Moral implications to be considered. Several long and excruciating seconds later, I came to a decision.

“In war, you can just about excuse anything. I picked up the phone and began dialling.”

Robson and her crew were detained and deported by Indonesian authorities, while Linnell then vehemently denied any fingerprints on the ordeal in an interview to The Australian.

His revelation last week shed new light on just that.

Peter Meakin, who was Seven’s head of news and current affairs at the time, has told Media Watch, “It’s a nasty thing to do. It’s all very well to have cut throat competition but you shouldn’t be endangering the lives of your competitors. That’s beyond the pale.”

As to contradictory statements, Linnell has told the Australian Financial Review, “What I said to The Australian was accurate … and what I said today was accurate.”


  1. I’m glad Linnell made that call. It was Channel Nine’s story and TT was was trying to hijack it and claim the glory. I was involved with newspapers and this type of thing was called a spoiler. If the competitor had an interview with, say, the person who fired the rocket launcher which brought down the MH17, you would raid the archives for photos and do a feature about the shooting down of the MH17. It’s good to see a news director protecting the integrity of his journalist’s work.

  2. daveinprogress

    This was such an interesting ‘get’ for Media Watch having devoted much time to this story more than a dozen years ago. It’s why, sadly, 30 years after Media Watch began, it is still not only a necessary program but essential viewing.

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