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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

CBS affiliate WGCL-TV Atlanta news director apologizes for airing alleged murderer’s spouse’s reaction

wgcL tv logoIn an unusual mea culpa on in its Web site, WGCL-TV (CBS Atlanta) News Director Steve Schwaid wrote a sincere apology for airing emotional footage Tuesday night of a Cobb County woman who did not know her husband has been accused of a homicide until their  cameras showed up.

The story aired Tuesday during the 11 p.m. newscast.

There was no disciplinary action taken. After it aired, Schwaid said in a phone interview today that he got some negative reaction from the public. “We don’t run certain 911 tapes. We don’t show body bags or pools of blood,” he said. After the fact, “I was uncomfortable with the video.” He had a staff meeting yesterday and they talked about  it as a “learning tool” for future stories.

Here’s the apology in full:

Writing apologies is one of the hardest notes to write. But clearly in this case we owe you, our viewers of CBS Atlanta and users of CBSAtlanta.com, an apology.

Last night we aired a story about a local man charged with murdering another man in Connecticut. Connecticut authorities arrested 44-year-old Lishan Wang on Monday. Wang is from Cobb County and is accused of shooting and killing a Yale University doctor.

Since this was also a local story, we went to Wang’s Cobb County home to see if we could learn what lead up to the alleged shooting. When we got there, a woman opened the door and we explained the story we were working on. It turns out the woman who opened the door was Wang’s wife. She didn’t know her husband had been arrested and charged with a crime. No one had told her that her husband was in jail in Connecticut on murder charges. We broke the news to her. It’s not something we want to do.

Wang’s wife then invited us into her home, but it’s what happened next that that I found the most offensive and horrifying. While we were in the home talking with her and shooting video, Wang’s wife fell to the floor hysterically crying. If you saw our newscast last night or our website earlier today, you saw this horrible video.

There was no reason for us to air or put that video on the Web. No one needed to see those moments in her life. I received several emails and calls complaining about what we did.

To those of you who wrote or called, thank you. We understand your anger and frustration with what we did. You’re right. This is not the way we set out to conduct ourselves every day. We appreciate your reaction and want you to know we knew the minute this story went on the air that we had made a terrible mistake in judgment.

It was wrong. We were wrong and I apologize. We have discussed it internally and will continue to do so. We will also use this video in future training sessions with our staff to show what we should NOT put on television.

I can offer no excuse but only hope you will accept our apologies.

50 comments Add your comment

Jimmy

April 29th, 2010
4:23 pm

Boy, are there a lot of questions here.

Where was the executive producer? The 11pm producer?

Did the crew ask questions before they edited the piece?

It sounds like the station failed to ask itself “tough questions” before the story aired.

Lynne

April 29th, 2010
4:37 pm

I saw this air on the news the other night and was horrified. This is schlock news reporting and management at the station should be ashamed of themselves. Whoever gave the go-ahead for this video to air should consider whether they have the level of professionalism necessary to continue or if they should take their poor decision making to the tabloids where it belongs.

Tony

April 29th, 2010
4:45 pm

So… where can I see it?

jk

April 29th, 2010
4:57 pm

I hope an apology was offered to the wife.

Rodney Ho

April 29th, 2010
5:10 pm

Not available of course on the WGCL website. I don’t think anybody has posted it on youtube or anything as of yet…

Too Easy

April 29th, 2010
5:10 pm

Stuff happens, even when you are vigilant. I suspect the right questions have been asked internally. The station apologized; it’s over. Let it go.

Marcos

April 29th, 2010
5:11 pm

“News” is out of control. We used to have real journalism in this country… now we just get tabloid TV shoved down our throats in place of it.

05girl

April 29th, 2010
5:14 pm

He apologized for airing the footage, yet you say “That wasn’t the problem: the problem was AIRING the footage of her emotional reaction to the news. ” ??

Xinyi

April 29th, 2010
5:20 pm

I wish his wife also in the recipients list!

chiahai

April 29th, 2010
5:55 pm

To Tony, the sick man!! You need to see a doctor.

JHildy

April 29th, 2010
5:58 pm

Rodney!!!! you HO

Sam

April 29th, 2010
6:00 pm

Why would the news reporter on the scene even entertain recording this? Ever notice how reporters question the spouse of an individual right after the murder. Why?

Elmo

April 29th, 2010
6:01 pm

Rodney – This crap happens elsewhere as you know – it is horrible. They do it in B’ham – they will run an Camera up into an horrible emotional scene – Homicide – and force us to look at People trying to sort out the horror –
Shame.

thank you for owning up

April 29th, 2010
6:05 pm

too often the blame is passed, deflected, and the spin machines come out.

i appreciate this channel for owning up to the mistake. may it never happen again…

gayle

April 29th, 2010
6:12 pm

Recording the emotional outburst is one thing – that decision was made by a $10/hr photographer and a reporter who probably never finished college.

But the decision to air this objectionable and no-news-value footage needed to go through the 11pm producer, the executive producer and the news director.

Is it any wonder that people are running away from local “news”. This is really a disgrace.

The messenger

April 29th, 2010
6:13 pm

You can see a modified clip here:
http://abcnews.go.com/US/video/wife-learns-husbands-crime-camera-10489470

The reporter should have known better than to ask a question while the poor lady was on the ground crying

Byron Mathison Kerr

April 29th, 2010
6:16 pm

The fact that this video should not have been shown is an absolute no-brainer. I would be downright afraid of someone who has such poor judgment!

One station recently played a 911 call of a woman while she was being murdered!! Such a thing is absolutely horrible — and I definitely don’t need it to become part of my psyche.

bulldog bubba

April 29th, 2010
6:40 pm

Their “TOUGH QUESTIONS” IS bound to get someone hurt.As a reporter I can not understand how CBS 46 can consider what they do to people good TV.They need to get rid of the whole staff and start over!!!!!

Dane Cook

April 29th, 2010
6:50 pm

You have to admit, it is funnier than my routine.

Big Tuna

April 29th, 2010
6:52 pm

You get a thumbs up CBS46 from me on this one..Now..about local sports………

Marcus Graham

April 29th, 2010
6:59 pm

reporter should be fired
cameraperson should be fired
news director should be fired
video editor should be fired
assignment desk editor should be fired

Timothy

April 29th, 2010
7:01 pm

Sir, you and your station knew exactly what you were doing. The reporter & camera person are nothing more than trained monkeys that are rewarded for show casing the most horrific, emotional scenes of murder, robberies, rapes and devastation, to poison the viewers psyche. Not caring who sees it, or the emotional turmoil you dump on the people you stick a mic or camera on.
You apologize for your actions when if fact you’re only sorry because it didn’t get the type of response that you were banking on and that is “get the story out first, damn the people”. The only thing more horrifying and offensive than the broadcast of this story is your claim to be professionals and pathetic apology.

Old School

April 29th, 2010
7:04 pm

Are you really surprised that “Atlanta’s Tabloid TV News Station” was run this? All of the staff at the “We Ask the Tough Questions” bunch are nothing better than third rate ambulance chasers whose mantra is clearly on sensationalized hokum. Not a professional journalist in the bunch. The few times that I have watched this seedy circus of clowns–before flipping the channel to WSB, WXIA, or Fox 5 after watching CBS’s excellent programming I felt like I needed to go take a bath. I mean get-real. Anybody who features “Miss Tight Sweaters The Weather Girl” and then has to compliment her with a REAL meteorolgist —but yet can’t afford to pay a sports reporter— well, that ought to tell you where they are coming from. If you are INTERESTED in LOCAL sports, you know you have to go to one of the other 3 stations. Oh, I forgot, they can afford to hire a radio guy on the weekends. What a joke this outfit is!!!!

Lodney Ho

April 29th, 2010
7:31 pm

The real wang CBS46 needs to apologize to is mine ever since they brought Jennifer Valdez to the market. I don’t know how I even make it to work on time somedays…

Peter D. Slaughter

April 29th, 2010
8:09 pm

Overall,the media is racist,phony and distorted anyway. I am glad I don;t even watch racist
tv news no more.
People should cancel their cable and put these racist and distorted maniacs out of business.

outonleave

April 29th, 2010
8:30 pm

Give the man credit for an honest apology with no excuses attached. Everyone makes mistakes (and some of you might want to mull over the saying, “To err is human; to forgive divine”), but what you do after you make a mistake says more about your character than the mistake itself.

Lord there’re a lot of hateful people who dribble onto the AJC site.

Eddie Murrow

April 29th, 2010
9:16 pm

firesteveschwaidnow.com

Roy Hobbs crack pipe

April 29th, 2010
9:57 pm

Put Dagmar in more tight shirts and we will forgive you.

CCATLSux

April 29th, 2010
10:31 pm

CBSAtlanta has a newscast?

Truthpaste

April 29th, 2010
11:38 pm

When it bleeds, it leads. That’s the mantra television news has been following for years now, why get a conscious now?

Kat

April 30th, 2010
12:07 am

Even though the grammar in this apology is certainly less than stellar, I have to say this is a very straightforward and humble apology. This is a great example of what to do if you make an ass of yourself. Just admit it, eat it and apologize for it.

Wow

April 30th, 2010
2:19 am

Wait…CBS 46 apologizes for showing the video, to viewers, but not the woman who they embarrassed? Then they state that they are going to show this video over and over and over and over and over again in training to show staff what not to show? Holy crap, batman! Why are they abusing this poor innocent woman? YOU FAIL AT NEWS, CBS 46. I don’t see how people accept this empty apology. It was pretty much a summary of the murder story, not an apology.

david

April 30th, 2010
4:10 am

Can not agree more with ‘Wow’, their apology shows NO sympathy AT ALL. They really don’t know what they really did wrong. Did they mention a single word about the hurt they did to the poor women ? NO ! They just apologize for offending the audiences (and of course they need to apologize to them). but what I am expected is a deep apology to the poor women too. to show they really understand what they did wrong …

InDaBizz

April 30th, 2010
8:35 am

Worked for 20 years in TV and News.

You bet your life they KNEW EXACTLY WHAT THEY WERE DOING.
Every person in the NEWSroom got to see that sensational video as it was edited.
Even the receptionist got a look.
Heck, they got their runner to come in and take a gander.
The whole HOUSE knew they got that footage- and they laughed about their BIG SCOOP too.

This dude needs to get FIRED, what with the alligator tears and disingenuous humility.

In fact, if you’re moved to comment here- take it a STEP FURTHER.
Write a letter/email to the station GENERAL MANAGER and demand heads should roll.
For every letter they get- the OWNERS believe that at least 1,000 other viewers feel the same way.

Go another step further and contact the local advertisers of their NEWS program.
Tell the advertisers you WON’T shop at their store, buy their products, or bank with them- AND, you’ll tell at least a DOZEN of your friends the same thing! Boycot the station with revenue loss.

That’ll get some reaction.
Is it a FOX Station? If not, it sure could be! (Maybe that’s their big competition?)
LOSERS GOTTA GO!

AL

April 30th, 2010
8:54 am

Actually, this “apology” only reveals what a bunch of spineless elements oversee the so-called news that we are fed by giggling TV personalities. It makes you wonder what else they don’t show their crybaby and comfort-addicted viewers. Frankly, I’d like to see a news program that does NOT bleep anything out and that depicts the world as it really is. Besides, what’s wrong with showing a woman weeping over a murderer? She should have cried for the victim.

In shock over this

April 30th, 2010
10:07 am

This was NEWS!? A private moment for a woman who had NO clue that her life was about to be turned upside down and you AIRED THIS?! Kids in the back-ground? WHAT WERE ANY OF YOU THINKING? Did you consider putting the camera DOWN and speaking with her as a person as she was JUST LEARNING that her husband, father of her kids had POSSIBLY killed a man. (guess he is guilty till proven otherwise as he has not even had a TRIAL YET)

Poor taste with ALL involved. You all should be ashamed of yourselves! The apology letter is just shy of saying, “haha we goofed up, for give us, NOT. ”

What you did can not be forgiven! And now thousands can see it over and over…You got your story, and all the press and attention.”

WHAT DID YOU GIVE THE WIFE, THE KIDS???!!!…….

this station has a bunch of ass’s working for them!

TheStandard

April 30th, 2010
10:26 am

This is SLIMIEST and most disrespectful “news outlet” there is! No one had any comment when contacted when one of their vehicles tried to kill someone either.

Jessica

April 30th, 2010
11:35 am

The reporters are really suckers. The family is what you suckers really need to apologize to. Don’t forget to thank the family not sueing you yet.

Feel Pity for her

April 30th, 2010
11:46 am

I feel so pity for Wang’s wife, the woman embarrased by CBS. She got breast cancer and is still under treatment. She and those three kids are so vulnerable, they need help instead of what the dude did to them.

Big Sexy

April 30th, 2010
1:55 pm

Here’s my TOUGH QUESTION:

Isn’t it the beginning of the May book, Mr. Schwaid???? You knew EXACTLY what you were doing! You sanctioned it, endorsed it, praised it, and placed it with great enthusiasm “in the first five minutes.” What a slimeball you are. And that Michelle what’s-her-name should be ashamed of herself!! No class whatsoever. She needs to go back to journalism school. The photographer sucks, too! Bottom line — this story was vetted by the managing editor, producer, news director, writer, reporter, photographer, video editor, and clearning crew BEFORE it hit the air. Shame on you all! “WGCHell — Needless crap…all in the first five minutes.”

Rodney Ho

April 30th, 2010
2:09 pm

Sweeps don’t matter anymore in this market because ratings are measured now for all demographics all year around. That was instituted several years ago. And even then, the story did not happen during sweeps, which are now only relevant in smaller markets and started, I think, today.

angry viewer

April 30th, 2010
2:43 pm

CBS, you should also apologize to Wang’s wife. The poor woman is a cancer patient, has no job, and has three children to raise. Your sick video not only hurts her and her children deeply, but also exposes them to possible future revenge, putting their lives at danger.

angry viewer

April 30th, 2010
2:49 pm

CBS, you own Wang’s wife an apology. The poor woman is a cancer patient, has no job, and has three children to raise. Your sick video not only hurt her and her children, but also expose them to possible revenge, putting their lives at danger.

WhenTheDustSettles

April 30th, 2010
2:50 pm

I’m confused, if she didn’t know anything, then why did she let them in her house. I don’t agree with what they did, but hey reporters show up at your house with lights and camera’s and you just let them in to start interviewing you. Wouldn’t you ask why they were there before letting them ?

Again, what they did wasn’t in good taste, but just because a news van pulls up in front of your house, you don’t just let them in and let them start filming you without knowing why?

Also, this story was all over the news, how could she not know? WGCL should not have continued with the interview once they saw that she was unaware of the fact that her husband had been arrested. I’m also taken aback by the fact that so many people are shocked at this type of behavior, I see it all the time on the local news here in Georgia, but this is the first time an apology has been issued. Hmmmm

disturbing apology

April 30th, 2010
3:11 pm

I did not see LiShan Wang’s wife mentioned in the apology. What could you do to make up the damage to her and her family? She and her family are also victims of the homicide and deserve the same rights as everybody.

This apology comes from the directory and not from the reporter. The reporter intruded a family and pushed for interview with a cancer patient lacks the basic professionalism and sympathy for a human being. I don’t think this report dare to interview a white women under the same conditions and CBS would air the video. This is very clear discrimination against minority.

Michael

April 30th, 2010
7:51 pm

WSB TV showed up a lawyers house last night for their story “Public Defender Arrested for DUI” It’s not like it was Vernon Pitts or something, just some lawyer who’s been working there for a year and a half. Oh, and then AJC ran it on their front page of their website today.

TV adores these interviews of people who “saw tornado” as they pruriently show us tornado damage in the trailer park. They just want to objectify and exploit us under the guise of human interest stories. Don’t you have another Tiger Woods mistress whose story must be told?

Jimmy

May 1st, 2010
7:52 pm

Wow, the grammar in most of these responses is horrible!

R on

May 4th, 2010
5:34 am

Tough Questions??? All the reporters that try to be investigative reporters on this station act more like “jerks” than the people they try to embarrass . Even Adam Murphy should be slapped up the side of the head for some of his stupid questions. More and more people are slamming the doors in their faces thank goodness. Oriental people are generally very polite therefore inviting someone into your home is the “polite” thing to do. The poor woman probably does not watch enough TV to know what was going on. The vultures and producers etc. knew exactly what they were doing and I agree “heads should roll”. Channel 46 needs to start anew with all their so-called investigative reporters or just get out of the game all together. Jimmy since you are trolling the blogs for errors why don’t you get off computer and watch channel 46. Thanks for you critique but it serves little purpose except to evidently make you feel better.

John

May 7th, 2010
10:59 pm

Killing is an awful criminal activity. However I express a deep sympathy for Dr. Wang because I, with Chinese origin, also experienced similar or even worse unfair treatments and wrongful termination for my PGY-1 residency. How many anti-Chinese discrimination/retaliation cases causing residency termination are there in the United States? I am a self-attorney now. Discrimination/retaliation is a serious unlawful practice in the United States. Health care reform demands a lot of foreign medical graduates. Shortage crisis in minority physicians affects the success of health care reform. Any anti-Chinese discrimination to wrongfully terminate residency of Chinese doctor should be considered anti-America. Dr. Wang is responsible for his criminal shooting. However, a true report of his unfair treatment is still pending. Justice he has been pursing in saving his career that was damaged by the wrongful termination is not yet concluded. Dr. Wang’s layer filled his complaint in July 2009 and defendants’ lawyer filled an answer to dismiss the complaint in September 2009. The Court has not yet made a decision by my knowledge. I know that the court usually delay process for this type of cases. Unfortunately, the tragedy occurs when a man loses patience in unpredictable waiting. In my opinion, to prevent the tragedy, the court should process the case sooner. If too long time to process a case, either the plaintiff or the defendant is looser. Monetary compensation cannot save one’s career. If no rule to regulate the court to process the urgent case, such as a wrongfully terminated resident desires to save his/her career, then a bill is needed to the legislation of the United States. I would like to coordinate victims of residency termination because of anti-Chinese discrimination to form a team to fight together. Please refer them to me. My email is johnyanglee@yahoo.com.

Lodney Ho

May 8th, 2010
11:07 pm

Still no apology to my wang from CBS46 for Jennifer Valdez being on the air.