Second reporter loses job over NBC George Zimmerman 911 call edit

The New York Times
Lilia Luciano is the third person to lose a job in the wake of two separate incidents in which a 911 call by accused Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman was edited deceptively, Brian Stelter reported Thursday. Luciano “is no longer with NBC News,” an NBC spokesperson said in a statement, offering no further elaboration.

The edited versions of the call aired on the “Today” show, for which Luciano appeared as a correspondent, and on WTVJ-TV in Miami, a station owned and operated by NBC. There were two separate incidents, both of which involved the audio being edited in the same incorrect way: Zimmerman’s response to a dispatcher who asked Martin’s race was edited to give his answer a racist tinge.

WTVJ reporter Jeff Burnside was fired last month for the incident in which he was involved, and NBC has fired a producer involved in the production of the recording that aired on “Today.” That person’s name has not emerged in reporting on the incident so far. A source close to WTVJ told me the station didn’t have a news director at the time of the incident and it has since added another layer of management as part of an overall system of checks and balances following an internal investigation into how the mistake happened. NBC conducted its own investigation.

Burnside’s edited video influenced Luciano’s, Stelter reported: “According to a person with knowledge of the NBC investigation, the error in her March 22 originated in the script of a report on WTVJ, the NBC-owned station in Miami. … By borrowing from the WTVJ report, Ms. Luciano and her production team repeated the mistake, according to the person, who was not authorized to talk about it publicly.”

Reading Stelter’s article, I initially thought there might have been a third incident in which the tape was edited improperly. He writes:

The editing of the 911 call happened again on the “Today” show five days later, in a report by another correspondent, Ron Allen, who remains employed by the network. NBC executives viewed the edit in Ms. Luciano’s report as more egregious because it introduced the error to “Today” for the first time; Mr. Allen’s report then lifted some material from her report and mistakenly reused it.

An NBC spokesperson says there were just two bad edits, meaning, apparently, that Allen reused Luciano’s edited audio.

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  • Anonymous

    Good.  A few crucifixions will encourage accountability.  Yes, they were small fry, but it’s a start.