We regret to (mis)inform you
End of an error: It’s not that television news reporters don’t make mistakes; it’s that they usually don’t correct them. Something about the broadcast airway ether allows TV news gatherers to feel OK about letting a falsehood float out there and fade into viewers’ memories.
Bites’ errors, on the other hand and for example, exist into ink-stained perpetuity.
So, for this following story, KCRA 3—“Where The News Comes First”—gets a gold star.
Just 10 minutes into the 5 p.m. newscast on June 21, co-anchor Dave Walker read a correction on the air. He used the word “regret” more than once.
Bites’ disembodied jaw dropped nearly to the floor.
Here’s how it happened: In May, a senior at Laguna Creek High School in the Elk Grove Unified School District was suspended when school officials began to suspect he had obtained a teacher’s password and used it to log into a school computer system and change grades. The student, 18-year-old Alexander Ochoa, sued the district in Sacramento County Superior Court for the right to participate in graduation ceremonies. His fight was widely covered in newspapers and on television, including by KCRA.
On June 16, the Sacramento County district attorney’s office filed eight felony computer-theft charges in Sacramento Juvenile Court against a Laguna Creek High School student who was believed to have accessed the school’s computer system and changed grades and phone numbers.
But we’re talking about two different students.
KCRA failed to note the differences—namely, that the criminal charges were filed against a 17-year-old, a minor whose name would not have been released to news agencies by the court.
“Channel 3 assumed when that was announced that it was my client and put his picture on the screen,” said Michael L. Faber, an attorney hired by the Ochoa family to help Alex in his lawsuit with the school district.
Faber said Ochoa’s mother called the news station to complain.
“Certainly, when we make an error, we’ll correct it as quickly as we can,” said KCRA News Director Dan Weiser.
Of course, Weiser could not remember the last time the station ran a correction, and he went on to say that some errors are not corrected, even when the station knows about them.
“There are times when people have said, ‘You made a mistake,’ and after we’ve talked about it said, ‘You’re right. I’d rather not put it on to draw more attention to it,’” Weiser said.
Weiser wouldn’t talk specifics about the Ochoa case.
But Faber says it’s simple: “They assumed something. And you know what happens when you assume.”
Blog on, blog off: Politics may be the lifeblood of many a blogger, but few politicians have successfully forayed into the world of blogging. State Senator John Campbell promised to change that. On June 7, the Republican senator launched a much-ballyhooed blog titled CA Confidential. The site was sprinkled with posed pictures of Campbell in detective-like postures and a “dossier” dotted with corny lines about his “illustrious career as a fact-finding sleuth out to uncover the inside scoop.”
Unfortunately, his career as a blogger was not so illustrious. It lasted four days.
The short-lived site is survived by its own online advertisements, which promise that with CA Confidential, “the smoke has cleared.” But Bites can’t help but choke on the thick layer of political ambition that remains in the air.
Campbell writes that the blog was discontinued due to an “unforeseen turn of events,” but Bites is obliged to point out the coincidental timing of the dismantling of CA Confidential and the launch of another site: Campbell for Congress. Could the “unforeseen event” have been an unexpected vacant congressional seat in Campbell’s neck of the woods? (George W. Bush tapped Southern California’s Representative Christopher Cox as the next chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission on June 2.)
Folks at Campbell’s office told Bites that the senator “doesn’t believe it is appropriate to blog during an election period.”
Campbell himself wasn’t available at press time to comment on the demise of CA Confidential, no doubt because it’s all off the record, on the Q.T. and very hush-hush.