A few days ago, San Francisco Fox affiliate KTVU was feeling pretty good about its coverage of the Asiana plane crash on July 6. The TV station issued a web promo bragging about having been the first station with cross-platform news of the event, complete with “aerial shots from KTVU NewsChopper 2,” the “first with a live reporter from the scene,” and the “first live interview with anyone connected to someone on the flight.” The station was proud of “being 100% accurate, effectively using our great sources and social media without putting a single piece of erroneous information on our air.”
Then came the noontime newscast on Friday.
Anchor Tori Campbell reported that KTVU had just learned the names of four crewmembers on board Asiana flight 214: Captain Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk, and Bang Ding Ow.
If you didn’t catch the problem, go back and read that list aloud.
The prankster who fed this information to KTVU hasn’t yet been identified, but the station was quick to apologize for the mishap. After a commercial break, Campbell noted that the list was clearly erroneous and offered a mea culpa on behalf of the station not only for the offensive gaffe but for employing a room full of people too slow-witted to catch the problem before it went to air.
Even so, the blame’s not all on KTVU. The names had actually been authenticated by the National Transportation Safety Board, though the NTSB has issued its own apology, noting that the list was vetted by a summer intern who exceeded the scope of his or her authority but was “acting in good faith and trying to be helpful.”
Let’s hope that poor kid wasn’t expecting a killer letter of recommendation out of his summer internship.