Staff at Seattle news station admonished over video of dead body

Newsroom staff at a Seattle-based television station were admonished recently by the station’s news director after video of a politician’s dead body made its way into a recent broadcast.

Last Saturday, SeaTac City Council Member Amina Ahmed was killed in a head-on car crash. Local Fox affiliate KCPQ (Channel 13) covered the story during its Sunday morning broadcast with a piece of video that showed Ahmed’s lifeless body laying in the street.

The error was spotted later in the day by editors working on KCPQ’s evening broadcast, according to a note sent by News Director Erica Hill to station employees.

“We should never show a dead body on our air,” Hill wrote. “We’ve gotten to the bottom of how it happened and it was clearly a mistake. But it wasn’t until hours later when it was noticed by the evening team and purged from our system.”

Hill said she was concerned that morning newsroom employees didn’t catch the error before or after the video was aired.

“Either no one who saw it took action to ensure it did not air again OR no one reviewed it before airing OR no one noticed it as it aired,” Hill wrote. “Any of those scenarios are unacceptable.  Each of you are gate keepers for what airs in our newscasts and need to ensure we don’t let mistakes like this happen. I know we are better than this.”

Video of the body was also streamed online and posted to KCPQ’s website. A version of the video accessed by The Desk on Friday showed footage of the body had been edited out, with a still image of Ahmed inserted in its place.

KCPQ is owned by Tribune Media.