Poynter: KTVU’s Apology ‘Teaches Journalists How to Accept Responsibility’

By Merrill Knox Comment

In the aftermath of KTVU reporting fake and racially offensive names of the Asiana Airlines flight 214 pilots, Poynter’s Al Tompkins says the San Francisco Fox affiliate did a few things right. Tompkins writes that KTVU’s swift and numerous apologies were “an approach that other journalists should replicate” after making mistakes:

KTVU has never hidden from its mistake. It corrected the story quickly, on the same newscast where the mistake was made. The station corrected the story online, it apologized on subsequent newscasts, and station management issued apologies.

[…] It seems to me that the station did what journalists should do when they make a mistake; they scramble to make it as right as they can. I think KTVU teaches journalists how to accept responsibility. It is not an excuse for making mistakes, and the station won’t get a second chance to make the same mistake.

Asiana Airlines said yesterday it would sue KTVU for the “racially discriminatory report.” Calling the lawsuit threat “idiotic,” Erik Wemple of the Washington Post breaks down the chances of the airline winning a lawsuit against the station:

To win a judgment against the television station, the airline must prove that the false report so injured its reputation that it resulted in the loss of business. That, it will never be able to do.

If Asiana Airlines suffers a loss of business these days, what will have been the cause? We’ll throw out two options: 1) A crash after an Asiana aircraft approached San Francisco International Airport too slowly, leaving three people dead. 2) A roughly 30-second report on a local TV station using fake pilot names for the flight. Tough call there.