Press Release – Nov. 9, 2011
Contact: Art Hughes, MNSPJ board member: 612-236-8302
The Minnesota Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists agrees with the Asian American Journalists Association of Minnesota chapter that WCCO-TV is woefully unresponsive in reaction to an errant news segment aired October 31, 2011.
The news report made a serious mistake, inaccurately stating dogs from Minnesota were shipped to New York where they were butchered for meat. The story relied on a misunderstanding with a Chinese meat market owner further perpetuating an unfortunate stereotype. Responsible journalism methods could have prevented the mistake, but it appears the newsroom is too willing to hear only what would make a sensational story. The story prompted a state investigation into the meat market that found no evidence the business used dog meat.
WCCO cannot undo the harm inflicted by airing the story. However, the editors and managers of the station can improve their own credibility and the esteem of all professional journalists by being upfront and transparent from here on out. If a newsroom publishes an incorrect story, it is imperative to acknowledge the mistake and issue a correction and an apology to those the story harmed. Not doing so makes it harder for all journalists working to win the respect of the public they serve.