A “production error” was behind the unfortunate leak of the Dally M Medal winner on Tuesday night.
The Daily Telegraph published a story online written by Phil Rothfield at the top of its website with the headline “Dally M drama: System needs an urgent overhaul” around 6.30pm.
The final tally of voting for the NRL’s highest individual honour, which included winner Jack Wighton on 26 votes, was also published before being quickly removed.
“Owing to a production error that was out of my control, The Daily Telegraph website accidentally published the winner of the Dally M award before the official announcement tonight,” Rothfield tweeted on Monday night. “We apologise sincerely for the mistake.”
Daily Telegraph editor Ben English also addressed the incident in a radio interview on Tuesday morning.
“This was a scoop I would be happy not to be talking to you about,” English told 2GB’s Ben Fordham.
“We stuffed up, all we can say is that we are sorry.”
The NRL releases the results early to newspapers so they can meet their publishing deadlines.
“(Breaking embargo) doesn’t help us. We have strong partnerships with the NRL, Fox and our readers and we do not want to damage that trust,” English added.
“If we didn’t have the list we would not be in a position to get all those stories into our paper. We need to write those stories in advance and the same goes for our digital operation.”
“All we can do is a redoubling of all the check and balances we have in place. We thought we had all those in place,” English concluded.
Wighton, who won a tight three-man race ahead of Clint Gutherson and Nathan Cleary, said the leak had no impact on his night.
“It was halfway through they came and took our phones and no-one really knew what was going on,” he told the Today Show on Tuesday morning.
“After, they told us that there was a leak. But we didn’t know too much while we were sitting in the room.”
The NRL said it would follow up the incident.
“I know mistakes do happen but we’ll certainly do an investigation to see how this happened,” ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys said.
“We’ll do an investigation and make sure this never, ever, ever happens again.”
The Daily Telegraph is owned by News Corp Australia, publisher of news.com.au.