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By Gina Channell Wilcox

Give KTVU a break

Uploaded: 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.

Everyone is asking how such an epic failure could happen. How did the news anchor, Tori Campbell, not know the names were made up?

Being in journalism for more than 25 years, and watching how the Internet has changed the way news is reported, I can see how it would happen. All media organizations are racing to be first with breaking news. I would bet money the reporter who wrote the script got the information - or confirmation of the information from a National Transportation Safety Board summer intern - shortly before the newscast. So, being in a rush, the KTVU reporter failed to check the credentials of the source.

Then, even if the reporter included phonetic spellings of the names, which would have done in a hurry, it was "cold copy," meaning the anchor didn't have time to read the script before the newscast.

And anyone who has ever read from a teleprompter knows it is difficult to focus on how to say what is scrolling rapidly on the screen and comprehend what the words say at the same time. That's why phonetic spellings are often provided.

This is all speculation on my part. I don't know exactly what happened, but I can absolutely see how it happened. In the day and age of "get it out first," the media - print and broadcast - is setting the stage for failures to occur.

Let's use this as a reminder to slow down and check our information, whether it's from a person or (especially) a website.

And give Campbell and KTVU a break. We've all made mistakes, just not ones so public - with video that can be replayed over and over (for a majority of us anyway). "There but for the grace of God" go we.