KTVU reportedly fires producers following on-air gaffe

San Francisco Chronicle | Rich Lieberman

KTVU-TV has reportedly fired three producers following its infamous on-air mistake involving the incorrect names of Asiana Flight 214 pilots.

Special projects producer Cristina Gastelu, investigative reporter Roland DeWolk and producer Brad Belstoc have all been let go, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Noon news producer Elvin Selvidge has said he’s leaving for health reasons, the Chronicle reports. Blogger Rich Lieberman first reported the information.

Following its error, which aired during the July 12 noon newscast, KTVU apologized and took full responsibility. The station had confirmed the names with the National Transportation Safety Board, which later issued its own apology for incorrectly confirming the names. KTVU has still not said how it initially obtained the offensive names.

The video of the error was removed after KTVU filed a copyright infringement notice with YouTube. General Manager Tom 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.”

Paul Cheung, president of the Asian American Journalists Association, has been vocal about his response to the error; in a piece with AAJA’s Bobby Calvan, Cheung said more newsroom diversity could have helped prevent KTVU’s mistake.

AAJA leaders met with KTVU’s Raponi and others last week to discuss how the station can increase its diversity and prevent future errors.

KTVU said it would “work with AAJA to develop a pipeline of talented journalists who could add to the station’s diversity,” according to Calvan. It also said it plans to do a better job confirming the identity of sources, scrutinizing tips and checking the pronunciation and spelling of names.

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  • Arthur_P_Dent

    Couldn’t someone have seen the names were fake just by looking at them? Whatever happened to the philosophy that copy editors thought dirty (or juvenile in this case) so you didn’t have to?

  • SFMH57

    No info here http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/matier-ross/article/KTVU-producers-fired-over-Asiana-pilots-fake-4685627.php or here http://richliebermanreport.blogspot.com/ that there was any pattern or long-standing record of getting facts wrong. These days, for some reason, any and every error of any kind in any or every field is a firing offense. Why is that?

  • Sean

    Let’s all laugh at KTVU-TV’s dumb error, by all means. But should every honest error be a firing offense? Is there really organizational value in that? There are a lot of good, smart people who — like all of us — are capable of doing a stupid thing by mistake or oversight. If someone has a pattern of getting facts wrong, then that’s another thing.

  • abeaujon

    Robert, hi, I’d like to hear you out about your problems with Poynter’s journalism. Please email me at abeaujon@poynter.org to arrange something or just phone me at 703-594-1103. Best, Andrew

  • Robert Knilands

    Today’s Poynter journalism: Two paragraphs about “diversity,” and the mention of doing a better job of checking names is relegated to the end.
    This comes on the heels of a report claiming Sen. Feinstein’s gun bill was “what Congress (actually the Senate — another accuracy error) was looking for,” even though senators from both parties explained why the bill wouldn’t pass. Nine days later, and the claim is still being made that the information was somehow correct, even though quotes, context, other articles, knowledge about political science, etc., would all indicate otherwise.