ABC7 News Tweet Damaging to Student (Editorial)

Fremont student’s photo wrongly sent out with story about alleged killer

ABC7 News made an appalling and disrespectful mistake that could have harmed or even killed one of our Fremont students.

On Friday, the news organization tweeted the wrong photograph when updating a story about Mario Toliver, a 14-year-old boy who allegedly killed his 17-year-old sister, Justice Toliver, and who has remained on the loose and who is “armed and dangerous,” according to police.

ABC7 News made an on-the-air correction that same day, saying they had removed the wrong photo immediately after finding out the mistake and apologized to the student and his family.

However, this mistake needs more than an apology.

As an African American male, the wrongly accused student was in great danger.  A police officer could have shot and killed him, or a citizen might have reported him to the police or taken matters into his own hands and hurt the innocent student.

This is unprofessional journalism, and we want to know how it happened.

We e-mailed the producer in charge of this problem and after about two days of waiting for the phone to ring, we got a phone call from a representative of the station.

A reporter from the Green & Gold asked such questions as ” How was the mistake made?” and “Who authorized the (Twitter) post?” He also mentioned that students had learned to run things by the person in charge before publishing.

The only response he got was:  “The information you’re asking for, we cannot give it to you because it will cause internal issues.”

Shouldn’t the reporters at ABC7 thought about that before they had journalists just posting anything without verification?