WXYZ Apologizes for Gawker-Like Facebook Headline

By Aneya Fernando 

1_15723Yesterday morning, Detroit ABC affiliate WXYZ posted a link on their Facebook page to a clip of the horrific TransAsia Airways crash that killed at least 25 people.

The first sentence on the post was oddly enthusiastic: “You’ve got to see this!” The wording is a little too chipper for such a tragic story, don’t you think? Viewers were certainly not happy:

“Feel your first sentence is inappropriate, this is a tragedy and sad not something exciting to see,” said Kimber Bishop-Yanke.

“You’ve got to see this!” Is totally inappropriate and tasteless. Your tag line is really insensitive. You may as well have added LOL or a smiley face at the end… You got it wrong, people died in this horrific crash. I’m pretty disappointed in my favorite news station” added Dani Mangiapane.

With over a dozen negative comments on the post, the site changed the first sentence to “Terrifying!” which is a bit more appropriate. On Twitter, WXYZ’s version begins with “Amazing video.” It has not been changed.

Deadline Detroit got in touch with WXYZ’s new media director Seth Myers, who told reporter Alan Stamm he deeply regretted the wording on the post.

We definitely don’t have plans to take things in a Gawker-like direction here at WXYZ. The Facebook post you highlighted was terribly worded. You’re right on that. We felt the same way.

We spoke with the producer who wrote it and — as you noted — chose some more appropriate wording pretty quickly.

This one poorly worded post was not part of a trend.

Finding the right tone is key in reporting on a tragedy like this. This was a major #fail on WXYZ’s part.