I'm getting heat from some of you, (and presumably a few TV Execs and industry people), for writing extensively about the KTVU-Asiana Airline gaffe. A few have said I'm pouncing on the station and piling on. Let me address this head on.
From the very start, I praised KTVU's coverage. I think Frank Somerville was terrific on the air and I had him on my radio show the following Monday.
I try to be fair. Really, I do. I know mistakes are made every day; God knows I've made a few myself. It's called life. And I readily acknowledge that there's an awful lot of very good people at KTVU that are miserable over what has transpired since this very humiliating affair took place. Unfortunately, they are in the minority.
KTVU, in my opinion, has handled this whole mess in a less-than-admirable manner. It all starts at the top. Both GM, Tom Raponi, and News Director, Lee Rosenthal, are good guys and respected around the industry; there is no argument there. Frankly though, they've been terrible in handling the matter since. Limp apologies and trying diligently to erase the embarrassing video from the Internet is hardly the action of people in the top department to handle something like this. Granted, THIS is the mother of all gaffes; an indelible act of severe brain fart-itus that will forever be ingrained with KTVU's brand.
But KTVU had a chance to fix this; albeit with the notoriety attached to it because IT happened in the era of Twitter and Social Media, which of course scooped all of this up like chocolate syrup on vanilla ice cream. If anything, it's Social Media that pounced on KTVU. And given the act of seeing Tori Campbell read those names, who the hell WOULDN'T have? Not this day and age.
The simple truth is that KTVU owes more to ITS VIEWERS, ITS STAFF, to GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS. Reputations are on the line. Credibility too. KTVU used to be the NY Yankees of the TV News business. Its stellar reporting and vaunted newscasts were not only the Gold Standard for the Bay Area TV News community but indeed the nation. That, in and of itself, speaks to why so many people reacted with such utter amazement and befuddlement over the entire episode. That tainted residue still exists and it's not just me perpetuating it.
I have a lot of friends over at KTVU; reporters, anchors and the like and I know this is a most difficult time. THEY have to live with this mark on their professional career, and none of them had anything to do with this. Given that, it's even more unfortunate that their bosses have managed to make ALL of THIS worse. In fact, the whole matter has OVERSHADOWED the jet crash story itself; how bad is that?
I hope KTVU and Cox Media gets to the bottom of this. Better yet, I hope those at the top are more accountable and open. Hiding and cowering; placing gag orders on your staff; trying to remove videos from the Internet is not only bad policy, it simply doesn't work. Moreover, it makes KTVU look petty and bush league. And that's not good for Cox, for KTVU, and most importantly, its viewers.
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