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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Careless Journalist, Reckless Intern

An incident in Oakland is a cautionary tale about haste in reporting and the hazards of internships.

KTVU in Oakland has apologized after a news anchor read offensive fake names of Asiana flight 214 pilotsKTVU's statement:
We made several mistakes when we received this information. First, we never read the names out loud, phonetically sounding them out.
Then, during our phone call to the NTSB where the person confirmed the spellings of the names, we never asked that person to give us their position with the agency.
We heard this person verify the information without questioning who they were and then rushed the names on our noon newscast.

Shortly before 6 p.m. Friday, the NTSB issued the following statement:
The National Transportation Safety Board apologizes for inaccurate and offensive names that were mistakenly confirmed as those of the pilots. A summer intern acted outside the scope of his authority when he erroneously confirmed the names of the flight crew on the aircraft. We work hard to ensure that only appropriate factual information regarding an investigation is released and deeply regret today's incident. Appropriate actions will be taken to ensure that such a serious error is not repeated.
The full NTSB statement can be found here.
Even with this statement from the NTSB, KTVU accepts full responsibility for this mistake.
We issued an apology later in the noon newscast, and we also apologized on our website and on our social media sites.
We have a lot of good people here at KTVU Channel 2. We pride ourselves on getting it right and having the highest of standards and integrity.
Clearly, on Friday, that didn't happen. So again, from everyone here at KTVU, we offer our sincerest apology.
The statement does not answer a couple of important questions:
  • If the station called NTSB just to "confirm," then where did it get the fake names in the first place?
  • Could anyone have made a phone call about the names without ever saying them out loud?