Yes, it can happen. In the rush to gather and package the news, news people can pass along material from a bogus or unconfirmed source (this seemingly has happened more with breaking news stories on TV than with print journalists). But sometimes the source itself has been “punked.” KTVU Channel 2 in San Francisco stepped in it, bigtime, running phone Chinese names supposedly involved in the San Francisco plane crash. Here’s the video:
A San Francisco Bay Area TV station has apologized after reporting bogus names of the four pilots aboard Asiana Airlines flight 214 that were a play on Asian names.
KTVU-TV co-anchor Tori Campbell read the racially offensive names on the air Friday. The report was accompanied by a graphic with the phony names listed alongside a photo of the burned out plane.
After a break, Campbell apologized for the error. She said a National Transportation Safety Board official confirmed the names to the station.
Video of the report spread across the Internet Friday.
Paul Cheung, president of the Asian American Journalists Association, released a statement saying KTVU’s reporting of the names was “not only wrong, but grossly offensive.” The phony names caricatured Asian names, said Cheung, who also is interactive and graphics editor for The Associated Press.
The National Transportation Safety Board late Friday issued its own apology for “inaccurate and offensive names that were mistakenly confirmed” to KTVU Channel 2 as those of the pilots of Asiana flight 214, which crashed at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday.
The statement said that an NTSB summer intern, in response to the station’s inquiry, “acted outside the scope of his authority when he erroneously confirmed the names of the flight crew on the aircraft.”
However, in a subsequent phone interview with the SFGate’s Jeff Elder, NTSB spokeswoman Kelly Nantel made clear that the names “originated at the media outlet” and that the intern — unaware of the offensive names — was “acting in good faith and trying to be helpful” by confirming names he didn’t know.
“The NTSB does not release or confirm the names of crew members or people involved in transportation accidents to the media,” Nantel said.
(Wait! Now I get it. Someone who saw me as a talking independent voter head on a panel on CNN’s Don Lemon’s weekend newscast a year ago said I reminded them of the great Chinese philosopher Ahn Too Longh…)
UPDATE: Here’s the station’s on the air apology: