NABJ Condemns KTVU for Airing a Photo of Murdered 18-Year-Old

By Stephanie Tsoflias Siegel 

Leaders of the National Association of Black Journalists want to have a sit-down meeting with executives at KTVU, the Fox-owned station in the San Francisco market.

On Monday during the noon newscast, the station aired a photo of 18-year-old Nia Wilson, who was killed in a random stabbing attack over in the weekend on a Bay Area Rapid Transit train. The photo the station chose from her Facebook page showed her with what appeared to be a gun in her hands. It was actually a phone case.

“Use of this photo violated one of journalism’s core ethics: ‘do no harm,’ as it implied Ms. Wilson was dangerous. The use of the photo can be seen as an attempt to dismiss her humanity and silence those who view her death as a racially-motivated attack. It was also in violation of copyright laws,” said the NABJ in a statement.

KTVU anchor Frank Somerville offered up an apology on his Facebook page for airing the photo as well as on the station’s 10 p.m. show.

“There is no excuse for we did. Repeat: No excuse! We NEVER should have used that picture. It was a huge mistake on our part. We realized it instantly. And that picture will NEVER appear on our air again,” Somerville said in his Facebook post.

The NABJ cites previous editorial issues which include an incident in 2013 when the station read fake names of four Asiana Airlines pilots following a crash at the airport.

“These incidents would appear to illustrate a lack of cultural competency and training around unconscious bias among station staff and leadership,” said the organization.

The NABJ is asking for a meeting to take place at its annual conference next week in Detroit.