Discussions continue over KTVU Asiana crash coverage; KTVU vows better engagement with Asian American communities

On September 19, AAJA met with KTVU for the second time as part of a series of discussions about the station’s coverage of last July’s Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco. During its July 12 noon newscast, the station broadcast what it purported to be the names of the pilots involved in the accident — only to realize that it had been duped into airing offensive made-up Chinese-sounding names.

Ravi Kapur, AAJA San Francisco’s vice president of broadcast, and Ling Woo Liu, a chapter board member, represented AAJA during last month’s meeting. KTVU was represented by Rosy Chu, the station’s director of community affairs; Amy Wentworth and Michael Kelly, executive producers; Lee Rosenthal,  the news director; and Tom Raponi, KTVU’s general manager.

During the meeting, Liu recapped the MediaWatch panel discussion at the AAJA national convention and pointed out that the Asiana incident is still very much on the minds of members across the country. She told KTVU that great interest remained about the source of the fake pilot names and the disciplinary actions the station took. KTVU declined to discuss particulars.

Station officials reiterated their embarrassment over the incident, explaining that the noon newscast is relatively understaffed — which they said was pointed out to them by other stations when KTVU assessed the factors that led to the on-air mistake.

KTVU said it is doing a series of segments, hosted by “Survivor” winner Yul Kwon, that will profile prominent Korean Americans, including entrepreneur and philanthropist Chong Moon Lee.

KTVU addressed the lack of diversity in its sources. Kapur noted that when KTVU sought out a Bay Area perspective on the crowning of the first Indian American as Miss America, the station interviewed someone from the Council on American Islamic Relations despite the fact that the new Miss America is Hindu, not Muslim. KTVU conceded its mistake.

After the meeting, per KTVU’s request, Liu sent the station a list of nearly 100 Asian American community leaders in the Bay Area.

KTVU said it would hold another ascertainment meeting by the end of the year and open it to community groups. The meeting will allow the community to have a better understanding of how to get their events and perspectives in the news, and will help KTVU better cover the diversity of the communities it serves. KTVU said it also planned to send morning anchors Mike Mibach and Claudine Wong to AAJA-SF’s Media Access panel at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland. The time and date for the event has yet to be determined.

AAJA is pleased to hold KTVU and other news organizations accountable for their actions, but we strongly believe that more needs to be done.

On behalf of AAJA-San Francisco and AAJA MediaWatch,

Ravi Kapur,
Vice president of broadcast, AAJA-SF
Principal at KAXT, WRJK and Diya TV

Ling Woo Liu
AAJA MediaWatch Committee and AAJA-SF board member
Director of Strategic Communications at Asian Americans Advancing Justice