NABJ, BABJA and Maynard Institute Meet With KTVU FOX 2 Over the Use of Insensitive Photo of Stabbing Victim Nia Wilson

(OAKLAND, CA) August 7, 2018 ​- ​KTVU/FOX2 is taking several steps to address an incident where it aired an insensitive photo of 18-year old Nia Wilson, who was stabbed to death on a BART platform July 22.

Station management met Aug. 7 with representatives of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), the Bay Area Black Journalists Association (BABJA) and the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (MIJE).

The station says it has disciplined the employee who selected the photo from Wilson’s Facebook page; it is planning cultural competency training and is examining its workflow to see what changes can be made to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

“The meeting with station and corporate management was productive and respectful,” said Martin G. Reynolds, Maynard Institute co-executive director. “We certainly got the impression they were taking the situation seriously. The challenge now is making sure people are trained to recognize and check their own biases, and to create a workflow that can catch problems when they don’t.”

Terry Collins, NABJ’s Region IV Director said, “I commend KTVU for having a very frank discussion with us about this incident and learning more about its next course of action. I also appreciate the station willing to go through training with the Maynard Institute to try to prevent this from occurring again.”

The story about the death of Wilson that aired during the July 23 noon newscast, included a photo taken from Wilson’s social media pages​ that​ appears to show her holding a gun.

Use of this photo violated one of journalism’s core ethics: “do no harm,” as it implied Ms. Wilson was dangerous. The use of the photo can be seen as an attempt to dismiss her humanity and silence those who view her death as a racially-motivated attack.

As a result of this action, NABJ issued its 2018 Thumbs Down Award to KTVU. The award is presented annually to an individual or organization for especially insensitive, racist or stereotypical reporting, commentary, photography or cartoon about the black community, or for engaging in practices at odds with the goals of NABJ.

Such depictions reinforce unconscious bias, particularly against people of color, who are over-represented in stories about crime and violence. Please see the study “​Young men of color in the Media​” from the Joint Center Health Policy Institute.

KTVU representatives have been invited to talk about its editorial lapse, and its reaction during a panel discussion co-sponsored by BABJA and the Maynard Institute titled, “Race & Media in a Changing Landscape,” on Sat. Sept. 8 in Oakland.

Sarah Glover
NABJ President

Terry Collins
NABJ Region IV Director

Willard Ogan
President, Bay Area Black Journalists Association (BABJA)

Martin G. Reynolds/Evelyn Hsu Co-executive Directors
Maynard Institute for Journalism Education

Bob Butler
Immediate Past President, NABJ Past President, BABJA

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is an organization of African-American journalists, students, and media professionals. Founded in 1975 in Washington, D.C., by 44 journalists, the NABJ’s stated purpose is to provide quality programs and services to and advocate on behalf of black journalists. The organization has worked for diversity and to increase the number of minorities in newsrooms across the country. For more information visit nabj.org

The Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education is the nation’s oldest organization dedicated to helping the news media accurately portray all segments of society, particularly those often overlooked, such as communities of color. The media plays a pivotal role in shaping our perceptions of each other. The distorted coverage of communities of color influences public policy and the decisions we make in our personal lives. Maynard seeks to help news media achieve both a diverse staff and provide the public with the most accurate and nuanced coverage possible. For more information visit mije.org.

BABJA serves as an advocate and beneficial network of journalists, students and media-related professionals to ensure hiring, retention and promotion of black journalists. Founded in 1982, BABJA encourages and mentors black journalism students while providing a professional and social network for black journalists. For more information visit babja.org.

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