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NBC on air correction could clear up confusion over misedited Zimmerman 911 tape audio



zimmerman-edited-call_1893.jpgIt's become a truism about modern big media journalism outlets: They want transparency and openness from every institution but their own.

The latest example seems to be at NBC, where the company has provided a relatively vague explanation of how it came to misleadingly edit audio of a 911 tape featuring George Zimmerman, the volunteer neighborhood watchman accused of murdering teenager Trayvon Martin in a Feb. 26 altercation.

And despite issuing public statements and interviews on the subject, the network's news department hasn't admitted its error in the one place where it is most important -- on the airwaves where the mistake was broadcast in the first place.

As New York Times media columnist David Carr pointed out, NBC executives have spoken publicly about the error, which they attributed to an unnamed experienced producer who they say was subsequently fired.  But they have not pointed out the editing mistakes on air, where the audience originally saw the mistaken edits (one edit made it seem as if Zimmerman volunteered information about Martin's race to a 911 dispatcher when he was responding to a question.)

Andrew Beaujon at revealed that a reporter at NBC affiliate WTVJ in Miami,  Jeff Burnside, has also been fired for making a similar edit to the 911 tape for a story aired there. The SFLTV blog, which first reported Burnside's firing, also originally said the story WTVJ aired was the same piece which eventually aired on the Today show.

But according to the Poynter story, WTVJ's version was different, though edited in a similar way.

All of this has added to confusion over how NBC broadcast the misleading video and what it will do to ensure such mistakes don't happen again. Given its connection to liberal cable news channel MSNBC, and the visibility of anchor Al Sharpton in leading protests calling for Zimmerman's arrest and prosecution -- it becomes even more important for NBC to tell its viewers how the mistake was made and what the tape actually said.

I'm not hopeful they actually will correct the mistake -- it aired on the Today show a month ago and has been the subject of numerous press accounts. And even though NBC News president Steve Capus told Carr "you're probably right" when the media critic said the network should have corrected its mistake on air, there was no indication that was actually going to happen.

Even though, as Carr also points out, they air four hours of the Today show every day.




[Last modified: Thursday, April 26, 2012 10:19am]


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