Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pilot Error

Today's piece over at the Daily Banter takes a look at KTVU's massive screw-up and the station's reaction to it. Bottom line: It's not doing enough to make amends to the audience.

Here's the opening shot:

"As much as I want to let this story go, I can't. I just can't. I still find myself shaking my head on occasion at the sheer impossible absurdity of it, suddenly stopping whatever it is I'm doing to say out loud to nobody, "How in the hell could they have let that happen?" I sometimes wonder if I'm actually more incensed than KTVU News Director Lee Rosenthal is that his news department somehow -- for reasons no one with a brain let alone a working knowledge of a broadcast newsroom will ever fully comprehend -- allowed four obviously phony, racially insulting Asian pun names to go out over the air last Friday. Word has it Rosenthal's a good guy, but dear God, this mistake is so painfully embarrassing -- it's so far beyond anything in recent memory in terms of the systemic breakdown it exposed -- that I'm not sure he shouldn't do the honorable thing and throw himself on a nearby sword just as a matter of principle. I'm the most cynical guy in the world when it comes to an opinion of local news. With a few notable exceptions, I think it's crap, an often ineptly executed long con run by media company hustlers desperate for ratings dollars and shilled by shitty consultants who get paid a fortune to make every station in America look exactly alike. I long ago gave up expecting local news to be smart or to create anything resembling journalism. But this -- this gargantuan fuck-up confounds even my lowly expectations."

Read the Rest Here

It should be noted that someone made a really good point after the column, in the comment section, that my opinion doesn't seem to take into account cutbacks that have basically stripped most local newsrooms clean of personnel. In other words, yes, it's entirely possible that rather than going through a lot of hands and being subjected to the kinds of checks and balances an item would've been just a few short years ago, a story truly can be put on air without any real oversight these days. I've worked in a local newsroom since the 2008 crash, what led media companies to cut back on staffing for practical purposes and eventually gave them an excuse to keep cutting just to be bottom-line-hungry assholes. I know it's rough out there; it's a far cry from they way things were when I started my own local news career 22 years ago. But KTVU is still almost a top-five market station owned by Cox Media, so I have to imagine it's got at least a modicum of staffing. If it turns out, however, that the Asiana pilots' names screw-up really is due to personnel having been stripped to the bone -- with whoever's left now doing the jobs of the people eliminated and focused mainly on just getting the damn show on the air -- then I hope this is a lesson to those media companies pursuing profits above all else. It won't be a lesson, because most really don't give a crap, but a man can dream.

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