Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Report: Sense No Longer Common

Overshadowed by other current events of this past weekend was this little, sad, appalling, probably inevitable postscript to last week’s plane crash in San Francisco: the story of the Bay Area television station that ran what it thought were the names of the ill-fated Asiana Flight 214 flight crew, which turned out to be some yahoo’s idea of a joke. I won’t list the fake names here. Follow the link if you’re curious. At best, the names are someone’s idea of clever puns. At worst, we’re knockin’ on the racist door again. And in any case, even if the joke were not offensive, this is a newscast we’re talking about here, and–

Sorry.  I was about to type “the news is no place for foolishness.” Seems like that’s almost all there is, in the news, lately.


The following things have happened since:

[] The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) summer intern who confirmed the names when the TV station called him … has been sacked.

[] The NTSB revealed in a subsequent statement that the person who made the mistake was indeed a summer intern who was only supposed to answer phones and pass media inquiries along to the appropriate people. Instead, he “acted outside the scope of his authority.” The NTSB also insisted that “appropriate actions will be taken to ensure that such a serious error is not repeated.”

[] The TV station apologized, and said it had confirmed the names with the NTSB.

[] There have been no reports of any sackings at the TV station.


I got thinking about this a little – both as a former journalism guy and as a human whose senses have probably not quite yet deserted him.

Okay, so, a few things:

Note for the NTSB intern: If a TV station calls you, wanting to confirm information … they actually don’t mean you.

Another note for the NTSB intern: If you think they do mean you, your self-image is inflated out of all proportion. Even if every other human in the office is on lunch break. Interns who exhibit an ego are not interns for very long.

Note for the TV station reporter who called the NTSB: to whom did you think you were speaking, exactly?

Another note for the TV station reporter who called the NTSB: Always. Have. Multiple. Sources.

Question for the TV station reporter who called the NTSB: Did you not perceive that this had to be a joke, before you called anybody? Read the names again. Out loud. Then go watch the LPGA (up to here with really good Korean players at the moment) and see if you spot any names that sound like tasteless puns. Hint: no.

(And if one did spot a name that came off sounding like that? It didn’t get invented strictly for your English-speaking “Beavis and Butthead” amusement. Grow up.)

Question for the TV station staffer who creates the onscreen graphics: did you not [1] read the names out loud, [2] perceive that those names were unquestionably not serious (tasteful or not), and [3] address the following nuanced interrogative in the general direction of the newsroom: “awright, jackasses”…?

Question for the TV station general manager: by any chance, are you hiring?


If not, why not?


July 15, 2013 - Posted by | current events, journalism, media, news, television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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