(correction: An earlier version inaccurately quoted Lee Rosenthal, News Director at KTVU. The quote has now been corrected.)
Former KTVU reporter Lloyd LaCuesta, who spent 35 years at the Fox station in Oakland, wrote “with sadness” a letter to KTVU General Manager Tom Raponi about today’s on air gaffe.
Under the subject heading “pilot’s name’s,” the Emmy-award winning LaCuesta wrote:
I have watched with pride the professionalism and enterprise of KTVU in covering the Asiana Airlines crash. I was crowing to people here about how I worked at that station.
Now, I am trying to defend the station over the airing of prank pilots’ names.
I hope that you will make every effort to tell the public the complete story about how this happened. I make no judgements and I understand that a NTSB summer intern confirmed the names, but common sense indicates that simply sounding out the names would have raised red flags. The correct journalism practice still calls for two confirmations of a story.
Earlier today on KTVU’s Noon News, the station’s morning and noon news anchor read the names of four pilots on board the Asiana crash.
The names were all made up and obviously were intended as puns.
The Asian American Journalists Association issued this statement:
Those names were not only wrong, but so grossly offensive that it’s hard for us at the Asian American Journalists Association to fathom how those names made it on the broadcast. We choose not to repeat those names.
Some could argue that it wasn’t entirely KTVU’s fault. The station said it had confirmed the names with a phone call to the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the crash.
Earlier in the afternoon, the NTSB said it had no role in confirming the names. But when pressed by KTVU and others, the agency looked deeper into the matter. By evening, the NTSB issued an apology.
“A summer intern acted outside the scope of his authority when he erroneously confirmed the names of the flight crew on the aircraft,” the agency said in a statement. “Appropriate actions will be taken to ensure that such a serious error is not repeated.”
Despite the NTSB’s apology, KTVU is hardly off the hook.
With such a vaunted reputation among local news stations, we expected much more from KTVU. We fail to understand how those obviously phony names could escape detection before appearing on the broadcast and were spoken by the news anchor. We urge KTVU to conduct a thorough review to prevent similar lapses.
After AAJA issued it’s original statement, KTVU Lee Rosenthal returned AAJA’s call for a response.
“It doesn’t make things right,” Lee Rosenthal, KTVU’s news director, conceded during a chat with AAJA’s MediaWatch Friday evening. He admitted questions that should have been asked weren’t
“We can assure you that none of this was premeditated nor was there any malicious intent in any way,” Rosenthal said.
What do you think about the latest gaffe regarding coverage of Asiana Flight 214? Share your thoughts below.