KTVU-TV Pranked, Reports “Sum Ting Wong” and “Ho Lee Fuk” as names of Asiana Airline Pilots

Photo courtesy: YouTube

Photo courtesy: YouTube

Read these names out loud.

Sum Ting Wong. What does that sound like?

Wi Tu Lo.  Any ideas?

Ho Lee Fuk.  Yep, sounds like what I’m thinking.

Those were the names that a noon anchor reported Friday on KTVU-TV as the names of the pilots involved in the San Francisco plane crash last weekend. Here’s the problem–those are all fake names.

Now check out the video.

My contacts out in the Bay area say that KTVU immediately apologized.

“Earlier in the newscast we gave some names of pilots involved in the Asiana Airlines crash. These names were not accurate despite an NTSB official in Washington confirming them late this morning. We apologize for the error.”

Gawker reports that NTSB Public Affairs Officer Peter Knudson told them NTSB’s policy is to never give out pilot names in these situations. Meanwhile, KTVU’s VP and GM has issued an apology on the station’s website that partly reads:

“Nothing is more important to us than having the highest level of accuracy and integrity, and we are reviewing our procedures to ensure this type of error does not happen again.”

IN MY OPINION

KTVU-TV is a good news station. I have friends who work there now and in the past.  Pranks like these are pulled on television and radio stations all the time. Yes, people send in fake information on fake stationary via email and fax, but most of the time it doesn’t make it past the computer or fax machine.

The Fox station has learned an embarrassing lesson. As journalists we have to be on alert all the time and slow down, make those extra phone calls to confirm, confirm, and confirm.

More importantly, read the copy out loud in your head.  I’m not sure who did that at KTVU, but something that simple would have helped in this situation.

About Rebecca Aguilar

Journalism is my life. I've been a reporter for 32 years. I've covered the good, bad and ugly and along the way have won or been nominated for 48 awards. I'm currently the VP of Online for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and VP of Membership for Society of Professional Journalists, Fort Worth Chapter. I'm also a volunteer social media contributor for both organizations.

Posted on July 12, 2013, in News Now and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. “The Fox station has learned an embarrassing lesson.”
    That one sentence explains everything. A successful prank like this isn’t the only reason the larger affiliate’s main news program is known as ‘Faux News’. KTVU would have done better to associate themselves with CBS or Comedy Central.

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