NBC Hits the Trifecta
by Dan Ward
The New York Times on Sunday published a great story by David Carr regarding how NBC refuses to broadcast a correction to a major story despite hitting “the trifecta of being misleading, incendiary and dead-bang wrong.”
As many know by now, the “Today” show aired a story on March 22 about the Trayvon Martin case, in which tape of a 911 call from George Zimmerman was edited in such a way that it made it appear as though Zimmerman had made racist statements. (The unedited tape showed that Zimmerman was responding to direct questions from the 911 operator.)
NBC News did an investigation, fired the producer in charge and made a public apology. But as Carr points out, the one thing NBC did not do was correct the story in the same place where the error was made: the “Today” show.
Carr details the reasons why broadcast networks rarely if ever air corrections, and admits to being surprised when the president of NBC News agreed that it was wrong not to air a correction, saying “we probably should have done it on our own air.”
The question is whether “should” will ever become “will.”
So how about it, NBC? Will we ever hear Matt Lauer utter the words, “we goofed?”
Just the Facts
by Roger Pynn
If a tree falls in the woods and there’s no one there, does it still make a noise?
If you buy into the logic in New York Times media columnist David Carr’s Sunday column, the answer is either “no” or “maybe.”
Carr took NBC to task for failing to broadcast a correction about the bogus editing of 911 tapes from the Trayvon Martin killing on the “Today” show, where the outrageous edits were used. He gives NBC a lot of credit for dealing quickly with the nightmarish incident that further fanned the flames in this case, but he in exasperation asks:
“What is it with television news and corrections? When the rest of the journalism world gets something wrong, they generally correct themselves. But network news acts as if an on-air admission of error might cause a meteor to land on the noggin of one of its precious talking heads. NBC used all of the powers at its disposal to amend the mistake, except the high-visibility airtime where the bad clip ran in the first place.”
Carr goes on to say that at newspapers like the Times “corrections are usually not placed in highly visible news space, but they are consistent in where they appear, and readers can go there or not as they wish.” Really?
Isn’t that to say that readers should turn to their paper’s corrections column every day to see whether anything they read was right or wrong?
I agree NBC should have made up for its mistake on “Today,” where it erred. But I also think the Times and other papers need to live up to the same standard … not leave it up to concerned readers to serve as fact checkers.