Charlotte, N.C.’s WSOC-TV 9 issued a correction, retraction and apology for mis-reporting that a high school student at the Lake Norman High School intentionally flashed the camera for a photo in the school’s yearbook.
The correction, printed in all capital letters, retracted claims in at least five articles that wrongly said a female high school student “lifted her [graduation] gown waist high and intentionally exposed her bare genitals and private parts in order to make a lasting impression and legacy at her alma mater” and that the school’s “yearbook contained pornography,” among other claims. (See the retraction in full here.) My Fox 8 noted that “the articles were published starting on May 23.”
The Huffington Post’s late May report on WSOC’s original story provides some details about the station’s claims. A Georgia TV station, ABC-affiliate WJBF, reported on an interview with a mother of one of the high school students. The station gave her anonymity and reported the mother thought it was intentional. Gawker reported that the school district issued a statement that indicated the reports may have been wrong about the alleged flashing.
According to the retraction, the TV station’s claims were wrong because its source was “merely the unsupported opinion of one of the parents of a student at the high school.” The retraction notes the station could not find “any evidence” of these claims and that there are no sources to corroborate the claims.
The station’s retraction continues:
“We deeply regret these errors, have removed the former posted articles and completely retract and correct them. We openly and fully apologize to the young lady shown in the photograph and to our readers for these errors and any embarrassment or discomfort they may have caused.”
Media Bistro’s TV Spy noted that WSOC ran the apology on air June 14 as well.
The Charlotte Observer posted an update about WSOC’s retraction on top of its “original story” about the WSOC claims of pornography.
We have written to the school district involved in this story and WSOC asking more about this retraction and reporting and will update with any responses.
Hat Tip: Corbin Hiar
UPDATE: 6/17/2012: 5:59 PM EST: Added info from TV Spy and My Fox 8.