• The violent street brawl occurred the day after the South Hedland funerals, and was unconnected to the events. (7 News)Source: 7 News
The media outlet also landed in hot water last year when they incorrectly identified a First Nations man as a child abductor.
By
Dan Butler

Source:
NITV News
18 May 2022 - 1:48 PM  UPDATED 18 May 2022 - 1:48 PM

Pilbara locals have demanded Seven News retract a story that falsely connected a South Hedland street brawl with a funeral from the day before. 

Airing on Monday evening from the outlet's Perth bureau, the report broadcast distressing footage of the violent altercation from Sunday afternoon. 

The news report explained the fight by asserting that "tensions were high after a funeral in the Pilbara town".

In fact, two funerals had happened on Saturday, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Kariyarra Elder Pat Mason said the events had no relation to each other. 

"[The report] was not true, it was false," she told NITV News.

Ms Mason attended the morning funeral, which was held for her ex-husband of 25 years. The second funeral was held for a Kariyarra Elder in the community who had died suddenly. 

"The funerals went according to every mourning process... [the altercation] was just one family that actually happened on the Sunday."

"It had nothing to do with the funerals."

Ms Mason's assertions were corroborated by local authorities. 

"There is no link between the funeral and the altercation that occurred in South Hedland," Senior Sergeant Gordon Armstrong of the South Hedland police told NITV News. 

"There was an increased number of people in the town, that is all."

Ms Mason said the effects that such misreporting could have are real and adverse. 

"I just feel appalled about the stories that can get out and cause a lot of problems in the community at Port Hedland, for false information that has been... interpreted in a context that's misleading."

It is not the first time Seven News has landed in trouble for false reporting. 

In February, Nyamal man Terrance Flowers won his defamation trial against the media company for a report from last year which incorrectly identified him as the abductor of four-year-old Cleo Smith. 

It is believed he received a significant payout as part of a settlement for the distressing incident. 

Ms Mason said it was inconceivable such mistakes are still being made. 

"I think it needs to be rectified and should never happen again," she said.

Seven News has been contacted for comment. 

Man wrongly named Cleo Smith abductor reaches settlement with Channel 7
Lawyers for Terrance Flowers said he is very happy with the settlement and is looking forward to getting on with his life.