WBAL apologizes for erroneous Columbia mall shooting reporting


DCRTV reports (emphasis added):

Most of the flawed reporting, which linked the shooter to his two victims, was by John Patti, an anchor and reporter at WBAL radio, whose coverage was repeated on WBAL-TV. WBAL News Director Michelle Butt, in a statement posted on the WBAL radio website, said initial reporting from the scene “was based on sources connected to the case but has proven to be false. We regret the mistake and any additional hardship this may have brought to the families.” The apology did not appear on the TV station website. “We said we would address it when the time came, and we have,” Butt told the Baltimore Sun, adding that she had said all she was going to say on the subject. “We said we would address it and move on, and we are moving on.”

Butt refused to answer whether any disciplinary action took place over the report.

David Zurawik rakes NBC News and Pete Williams over the coals for similar reporting, and notes NBC doesn’t even acknowledge Williams reported it as a domestic situation.

From Zurawik’s Baltimore Sun report:

“Columbia Mall shooting domestic. Former boyfriend of Zumiez clerk shot her and new boyfriend also an employee of store,” Patti tweeted on Jan. 25.

Patti reported more details of an alleged relationship on WBAL-TV, saying “this is indeed a domestic incident” and that the two victims were “engaged to be married.”


Butts [sic] explained by saying WBAL management thought the problem was with Patti’s tweet, which reported the shooting as “domestic” without qualification.  Patti is identified on his twitter account as an employee of WBAL Radio. She said management feels his TV reports did not warrant such an apology, since he attributed what he was saying in them to sources.

Jeff Quinton

Jeff Quinton

Jeff Quinton is an award-winning blogger who has been aggregating and blogging since 1998. He has worked as a reporter, in government, and as a communications professional in Columbia, SC and Washington, DC.

Quinton is a native South Carolinian who has lived in Baltimore since 2006. He is a recent convert to the Catholic Church and is active in the Knights of Columbus. He has been involved in the pro-life movement nationally and locally since 2010.

Quinton is a veteran who served as an intelligence analyst in the Army National Guard. He is also an Eagle Scout.
Jeff Quinton