The Asian American Journalists Association has published important highlights from its recent meeting with KTVU.
AAJA leaders met last Friday with KTVU News Director Lee Rosenthal, Vice President & General Manager Tom Raponi, staff reporter Amber Lee, and Rosy Chu, director of community affairs and public service to discuss KTVU’s error. Earlier this month, the station incorrectly named the pilots of Asiana Flight 214. The names were offensive and caused AAJA and others to react.
AAJA’s Bobby Calvan explained what came of the meeting:
- Raponi suggested a quarterly meeting between AAJA and newsroom leaders to discuss ongoing coverage and diversity issues. We will set up the first session soon, with our San Francisco Bay Area Chapter taking the lead.
- Raponi also welcomed AAJA’s assistance in developing training, perhaps through a workshop or seminar, for KTVU’s newsroom. We will work with the station to help develop and conduct the necessary program.
- KTVU offered the SF Chapter use of its studios, logistical support and live streaming services to hold media access workshops, and Raponi said he would be pleased to participate.
- KTVU said it would work with AAJA to develop a pipeline of talented journalists who could add to the station’s diversity.
- KTVU offered to air public service announcements on our behalf if we are interested.
- The station would provide airtime on Rosy Chu’s weekly show “Bay Area People” to discuss diversity issues.
- AAJA invited Raponi and Rosenthal to attend our National Convention next month and to participate on the MediaWatch panel. We’re awaiting a reply.
Calvan said KTVU has still declined to say how it obtained the false names. The station, he said, is putting systems in place to prevent major errors from occurring again. They include: creating a better system to double check graphics, relying on more than a yes/no answer, slowing down, and confirming the identity of sources. (KTVU had confirmed the names with the National Transportation Safety Board, not knowing the person who confirmed them was an intern. The NTSB later apologized for incorrectly confirming the names.)
KTVU filed a copyright infringement notice with YouTube, and the video of its error has now been removed. Raponi told TVSpy’s Kevin Eck:
“The accidental mistake we made was insensitive and offensive. By now, most people have seen it. At this point, continuing to show the video is also insensitive and offensive, especially to the many in our Asian community who were offended. Consistent with our apology, we are carrying through on our responsibility to minimize the thoughtless repetition of the video by others.”
57 percent of people who responded to an informal TVSpy poll think it was wrong for KTVU to remove the video; 40 percent, meanwhile, said it was the right move. AAJA President Paul Cheung confirmed via email that AAJA did not ask KTVU to remove the video. “It was their decision,” he said.
In a Huffington Post piece published Monday, Cheung wrote about his reaction to KTVU’s error, which is thought to have been a hoax.
AAJA received a couple of emails from readers saying we should lighten up. Several reporters who are covering the story reached out to AAJA and asked why those names are so offensive.
For starters, people died. The joke was just insensitive to families who are in mourning and passengers who faced pain, trauma and injuries that may never heal.
Parents and kids now openly speak out against bullying. This joke was the act of a bully. I immigrated to the U.S. from Hong Kong when I was eight. I grew up hearing people make jokes out of my last name and my accent and speak to me in pretend Chinese. Would you find it funny if someone spoke gibberish and pretended it was the native tongue of your Irish, Polish or Italian great-grandmother?
In a Poynter.org story from last week, Cheung and Calvan encouraged news organizations not to repeat the offensive names.
Cheung said he used them in the Huffington Post piece because it’s an “opinion piece about my personal experience and feelings toward these bogus Chinese names. … We recommended media outlets not to use the names because they are just reporting the offensive incident not putting it into cultural or historical context.”