Australia | Indigenous Australian

Sky News issues apology to Keegan Payne after ambushing him in live interview

The Katherine teenager appeared on the show to discuss his $1 million fishing competition win but host Peter Stefanovic dredged up an event from his past.

Journalist Peter Stefanovic unexpectedly brought up an incident from Keegan Payne's past while interviewing him about his $1 million dollar fishing comp win. Source: NITV

This story was first published by NITV.

A journalist who turned a feel-good story of Aboriginal success into an ugly ambush on live TV has deleted his social media in response to backlash to the incident.

Sky News reporter Peter Stafanovic has been lambasted for perpetuating “a harmful and negative stereotype” following his train-wreck interview with Katherine teenager Keegan Payne.

19-year-old Payne did the rounds of media interviews last week after he sensationally became the first winner of the full $1 million dollar prize of the Top End’s annual fishing competition.

However, the teenager’s winning smile, which had charmed people across the country, quickly fell when Stefanovic raised an incident from his past involving a stolen buggy.

A clearly embarrassed Payne explained that he and some involved friends “weren’t thinking at the time”, were “still young” and that he regretted it “big time”.

The buggy was taken from Payne’s then employer, Bob Cavanagh, who in an interview with the Daily Mail said there were no hard feelings over the incident.

He said Payne was a “good kid”, and that the group of friends had worked weekends for him free of charge to say sorry.

Stefanovic’s ambush of Payne was swiftly condemned online.

Posting to LinkedIn, Naomi Moran, general manager of Koori Mail, described it as “institutionalised discrimination” on the part of Australia’s legacy media.

“A narrative that is so familiar ... That a Black person will only be who he once was, rather than who he has become in this country,” she wrote.

“We must continue to call out this representation of our people in mainstream.”

The media outlet posted an apology to its website on Friday.

“Sky News Australia and Peter Stefanovic apologise to Mr Payne and his family for raising these claims during the live interview about his million dollar win in the fishing competition,” reads the statement.

“Mr Stefanovic has reached out to Mr Payne and his family directly to convey his apology.”

By Dan Butler of NITV.