Town Square

Ho Lee Fuk? Give KTVU a break

Original post made by Gina Channell-Allen, Danville, on Jul 15, 2013

By now I think everyone in the U.S. and China has heard about the ill-fated Asiana flight that crashed in San Francisco and the ill-fated KTVU news report that reported false names of the pilots.

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Posted by Rick Pshaw
a resident of Danville
on Jul 16, 2013 at 8:04 am

The confirming source was the NTSB, but who/where was the originator? KTVU checked with the NTSB, it is true, but where did the original list of names come from? This question has never been addressed or answered.

My guess is that it originated within the KTVU organization. How about a follow-up, KTVU or do you want us to ignore the ORIGIN of your embarrassment?

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Posted by Citizen Paine
a resident of Danville
on Jul 16, 2013 at 12:17 pm

I'm afraid I have to go all-counterpoint on this one.

First, I'll agree that it was unintentional -- an accident. But that doesn't mean it wasn't negligent -- it was. The world is full of incidents that happened because somebody's behavior fell below the standard of "reasonableness." Even if we ignore the blindingly obvious phonetics, it's also true that the actual pilots' names had already been released -- at least two days prior to last Friday! It didn't need confirmation from an unpaid intern, elsewhere -- all it needed was any KTVU staffer with a pulse, paying the slightest bit of attention. And somebody else must've produced the graphic -- again, an easy opportunity to have avoided the gaffe.

Second, if we're looking for first causes, chalk another one up to greed. It's greed that drives the over-reporting, the headlong dash to be first (even when you're not), and the leaving of editorial decisions to un/underpaid staff. If you weaken the structure, without providing any cross-bracing, sooner-or-later it will fail -- sometimes embarrassingly.

That's not to say that it isn't hard to do a good job -- harder than it used to be. But I would resist the conclusion that it's therefore forgivable when the inevitable consequences are suffered. It's a management problem to maintain quality in difficult times. Negligent mismanagement is what happened here.

I think it's also interesting that that this happened on Friday. I used to drive 200 miles early on Monday mornings to go to work, coming home on Friday evenings -- all in the era of CB radios. Mondays were always quiet, but Friday afternoons were full of mischief. The hilarity on the web in this affair was due, in part, to that timing -- the humor, more sophomoric than offensive in my view, was perfect for the impending weekend. If your tastes run in that direction, check-out the sfgate thread on the incident -- it'll have you giggling like a schoolchild. You might want to wait 'til Friday.

But alas, in this era of over-lawyering, Asiana has announced that it will sue the station for defamation. There really is something wrong with that tactic, in the context of a tragedy caused by the airline's pilots flying, well, way too low.

BTW, here's a newsflash: Asiana will be represented by the estimable law firm of Dewey Cheatham & Howe, ably assisted by Dilly, Dally, Doolittle & Stahl, as well as Petty Phogg & Chern.

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Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on Jul 18, 2013 at 6:53 pm

The first line on a Faux Nuus employment application asks your IQ. If the number is above 86, better try elsewhere.
So ask yourself a question Gina: How likely is it this could have happened on PBS's News Hour?

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Posted by cardinal
a resident of Diablo
on Jul 25, 2013 at 7:17 am

Update: four producers have been fired over this incident, according to station HR chief Hugo Paknow.