It might sound obvious, but the thing about using the phone to confirm the crucial spelling of a name for your TV news broadcast is that you don’t actually know who it is you’re talking to unless you specifically ask otherwise. It could be anyone on the other line: a verified agency spokesperson, a Dachshund who sporadically makes a noise that sounds like concurrence, a summer intern having a laugh. It could literally be anyone. 

Oakland, California television network KTVU Channel 2 found this Life Lesson out the hard way on Friday when during a newscast they seriously misidentified the names of four pilots they believed were involved in the fatal Asiana Airlines Flight 214 tragedy, resulting in the irretrievable broadcast of four racist misnomers because life in television news more closely resembles a comedy of errors Anchorman, and not a journalistic circle jerk like The Newsroom.

An evidently thorough KTVU anchor referred to the flight’s four pilots using the racially insensitive monikers after they had been confirmed by someone – ‘Not sure who though? Don’t bother reading them aloud beforehand, just run with it!’ – at the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB have since issued a statement apologising for the “inaccurate and offensive names that were mistakenly confirmed as those of the pilots of Asiana flight 214, which crashed at San Francisco airport on July 6.”

“Earlier today”, the statement continues, “a summer intern acted outside the scope of his authority when he erroneously confirmed the names of the flight crew on the aircraft… [We] deeply regret today’s incident. Appropriate actions will be taken to ensure that such a serious error is not repeated.”

KTVU also issued a statement apologising for never asking who they were talking to, and for “never [reading] the names out loud, phonetically sounding them out” until it was too late. 

“Nothing is more important to us than having the highest level of accuracy and integrity,” the KTVU statement concludes.

“Clearly, on Friday, that didn’t happen.” 

Clearly. 

via The LA Times