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Reporter poses as missing schoolboy in daily’s video information appeal

Liam SmithA regional daily journalist posed as a missing schoolboy as part of the newspaper’s appeal to find the teenager following his disappearance three weeks ago.

Aberdeen-based daily The Press & Journal staged its own reconstruction of the last known movements of 16-year-old Liam Smith, pictured, who has not been seen since 17 November.

P&J senior reporter Kieran Beattie and digital reporter Frances Rougvie decided to film a reconstruction of Liam’s last known movements after realising there had not been any significant updates from the police about the missing person case “in quite some time”.

Kieran, who bears a strong resemblance to 6ft 4in Liam, found similar clothing to what the boy was wearing and was able to borrow a distinctive camouflage backpack from Aberdeen’s North Face shop of the exact same make that Liam was wearing when he was last seen on CCTV.

P&J deputy editor David Knight told HTFP: “A recreation was chosen to encourage the public to share the footage around, with the hope that it could stir someone’s memory and assist the police.

“After speaking to the police to confirm the exact locations of the last known places Liam had been seen, Kieran and Frances then travelled around Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire to recreate

“Kieran and Frances then used an iPhone secured in gimbal stabiliser to film smooth, first-person style footage at each location, with Kieran making sure he walked in the same unusual gait Liam could be seen to use in the CCTV footage.

“The two made sure the final video did not show Kieran’s face, as he sports a great deal of facial hair, to keep the recreation as accurate as possible, and worked hard to ensure the video did not imply the missing 16-year-old had travelled in any particular direction between the confirmed locations, as this was information the police did not have access to.

“Finally, Frances carefully edited the video together into a short, just over a minute-long package with subtitles stating the exact times Liam was seen at each location.”

The video was viewed more than 220,000 on Thursday alone, and was shared more than 15,000 times on Facebook – prompting more than 1,000 reactions and a reach of almost 400,000.

The final confirmed sighting of him was getting on the 202 bus from Aberdeen City Centre’s bus station towards the town of Banchory.

The CCTV camera on the 202 was not functioning when Liam boarded the bus, but after one passenger said he believed Liam got off in the Crathes, near Banchory, police centred their search around the area, combing through the woodland and even searching through water in the Crathes estate.

P&J editor-in-chief Richard Neville said: “It was an excellent piece of innovation and teamwork by Kieran and Frances, which we hope helps the inquiry.”

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  • December 7, 2018 at 10:34 am

    modern journalism skills indeed. Good intentions, but in my youth I was told the reporter should never be part of the story (or review). Things move on I guess.

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