One CBS affiliate is feeling the heat for broadcasting a false story in October about a Chinese meat market the news station claimed was selling dog meat.
The original report that aired October 31 by Minneapolis affiliate WCCO featured reporter James Schugel asking an employee at the Dak Cheong meat market in New York City over the phone if they sold dog meat.
The employee, thinking Schugel said duck meat, said yes. The employee reportedly told Schugel he did not speak English well.
The full transcript published by Media Bistro:
"‘Do you sell dogs?’ The man told us, ‘Yeah, we sell dog.’ So we questioned him more: ‘Dogs for people to eat?’ ‘Uh, yeah,’ he said. ‘We sell many kinds of meat.’”
The report resulted in a state investigation into the matter, but found no evidence of dog meat being sold at the market. The error drew sharp criticism from the news industry.
The Asian American Journalists Association and the Society of Professional Journalists slammed WCCO for perpetuating stereotypes and demanded an official apology from the CBS affiliate.
SPJ wrote in an official statement:
“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. “
AAJA said in an official statement that WCCO’s “lack of diversity” potentially proved harmful in the false reporting:
“This incident underscores the reasons why AAJA continues to advocate the need for newsroom diversity, as well as fair, accurate and responsible portrayals of our communities in the news media. Looking at WCCO’s roster of managers, we find the lack of diversity striking,” AAJA said in its statement.
“WCCO would be well served by having staff that reflects its diverse community and who can help vet what goes on air. We know mistakes happen, but we have yet to see an explanation from WCCO regarding Schugel’s report. The station pulled the story from its website, but the damage is done. “
The Minneapolis affiliate and CBS Corp. have remained mum on the matter, causing further anger.