Three at NBC lose jobs for reports on Trayvon

Edited Zimmerman call to police cited

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NEW YORK — Three employees of NBC have now lost their jobs because of editing changes to a call made to police by George Zimmerman on the night he shot Trayvon Martin.

Lilia Luciano, an NBC News correspondent based in Miami, is no longer working at the network, spokeswoman Amy Lynn said. Her departure came as a result of an investigation into her March 20 “Today” show report on the Sanford, Fla., case.

Each of the reports on either “Today” or NBC’s Miami station WTVJ-TV involve editing of Mr. Zimmerman’s phone call to a dispatcher that emphasizes his identification of Martin as a black male. Mr. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon, a case that has increased racial tensions.

In the report involving Ms. Luciano, audio of the police phone call was edited to insert a reference to the teen’s race that had been made later in the conversation.

Last month, an NBC News producer was fired after a March 27 “Today” show report where a tape of the call was edited to suggest that Mr. Zimmerman volunteered to police that “this guy looks like he’s up to no good. He’s black.”

The broadcast portion of the audio had deleted a part of the conversation where the police dispatcher asked Mr. Zimmerman about whether a suspicious male he was reporting was “black, white or Hispanic.” Mr. Zimmerman answered, “he looks black.”

Ms. Lynn said Friday that NBC News’ investigation into the reports has ended.

In an investigation about a separate incident on an NBC-owned station, reporter Jeff Burnside lost his job with WTVJ-TV because of a March 19 report on the dispatcher’s call that similarly edited out the dispatcher’s question that prompted Mr. Zimmerman’s characterization of Trayvon as black, spokesman Matt Glassman said.

The WTVJ report did not air on any other NBC stations, he said.

Last week, WTVJ aired an apology to its viewers for the report on some of its newscasts and posted it on the station’s website. The statement said that “an error in editorial judgment was made in which a question from the operator was deleted which could have created the impression that Mr. Zimmerman’s statement may have been singling out Trayvon Martin because of his race.

“We take this incident very seriously and apologize to our viewers,” WTVJ said. “After conducting an extensive investigation, we are putting a more stringent editorial process in place to ensure this does not happen again.”

NBC News did not immediately respond to questions about whether the “Today” show has addressed the misleading reports on the air, or whether there are any plans to do so.

Brent Bozell, founder of the conservative media watchdog the Media Research Center, said NBC still has not come clean.

“The truth has been withheld from NBC’s own viewers now for more than one month,” he said. “Do the network executives at NBC think that this is acceptable?”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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