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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fake Press Release on KTVU's Asiana Screw Up Aims to Get Even More Reporters to Screw Up the News

Posted By on Wed, Jul 17, 2013 at 8:00 AM

It's never a good sign when the news makes the news
  • It's never a good sign when the news makes the news

The KTVU story that misidentified the Asiana pilots, amusing readers through the weekend, just keeps getting, well, funnier.

Yesterday, we came across a press release issued through the PR hosting site PR Log, which stated that Tori Campbell, the anchorwoman who reported the erroneous names during a Friday afternoon broadcast, was taking a leave of absence. Campbell identified the pilots as Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Bang Ding Ow, and Ho Lee Fuk. The NTSB later said that an intern had confirmed the names to the news station, although nobody has come clean about where those names originated.

The press release, which was released Monday, says that Campbell takes personal responsibility for the false newscast and has decided to take a break from reporting the news.

Of course, hungry reporters (SF Weekly included) looked into this -- some even ran with the "news" about Campbell's departure.

When we called Lee Rosenthal, news director at KTVU, he said that the press release was fake and that Campbell was still on the air. As to why someone would put out a fake release, we clicked on the "contact author" button of the digital press release and fired off a message (the author's email was masked on the site), asking the author what was up with this bizarre release.

Then we spotted the gem in the press release: "Ophelia Payne will temporarily replace Campbell."

A few minutes later, we got a response from the author of the release confirming that this indeed was a prank. However, the joke was not meant to be on KTVU, but on the reporters who have been covering Campbell's gaffe over the last week.

Here's the response we got from "Graeme," the author of the press release:

This is an interesting experiment. Following Tori's mishap with Sum Ting Wong et al, I thought it would be interesting to see if news, presented in a matter-of-fact way, but containing an obviously silly name such as Ophelia Payne (I feel your pain) would get past the same journalists who were criticizing Tori Campbell.

Graeme says a lot of reporters have been asking about the press release, and even after some explaining, some "still don't get it," Graeme writes.

"Luckily, I didn't have one of my interns respond to you."

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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