TV Stations and WXIN and TV and Communications and Media & Marketing

Former 59 news chief tangled in Asiana-pilot name blunder

July 20, 2013

Former WXIN-TV Channel 59 News Director Lee Rosenthal had been crowing about the great job his news team at KTVU-TV Channel 2 did in covering the Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco.

Now, his station is at the center of an embarrassing blunder over reporting incorrect—and racially insensitive—names of the plane’s flight crew. In a graphic, Rosenthal’s station listed names that actually were crude phonetic jokes.

The station had run the names by the National Transportation Safety Board, where an intern confirmed the information. That intern has been fired.

KTVU’s anchors and management apologized profusely for the mistake.

Just a week earlier, in a press release on the station’s website, Rosenthal boasted that KTVU was first on the air, first online, first with alerts to mobile devices, first on Twitter and Facebook, first with a live reporter on the scene, first live interview “with anyone connected to someone on the flight” and first aerial shots from its news chopper.

All that news value, he wrote, and “being 100 percent accurate … without putting a single piece of erroneous information on our air, is what we are most proud of as a newsroom.”

Rosenthal might now be waxing sentimentally for his days in Indianapolis, where he was credited for adding several weekday newscasts and doubling the total hours of news at WXIN to 60 a week, as well as ratings gains against rivals WTHR-TV Channel 13 and WISH-TV Channel 8.

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