Updated: WTVJ Fires Reporter Jeff Burnside for Similar Edit to Trayvon Martin 911 Tape That Aired on WTVJ

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Updated 4/25 6:51pm: updating the story headline to reflect a new development. What WTVJ aired and what aired on the Today Show, while similar, were two different reports. Jeff Burnside was fired for what aired on WTVJ. The video that the Today Show aired came from NBC Southeast headquarters which is based in South Florida, according to Poyntier.org

You won’t hear it anywhere else but here – insiders have told us WTVJ reporter Jeff Burnside was fired last Friday for a Trayvon Martin report that aired on WTVJ and which included (with a full screen graphic) the edited 911 transcript from the call George Zimmerman made to 911.  allegedly editing the Trayvon Martin 911 tape, the same tape NBC aired on ‘Today’ in early April. Allegedly, his firing wasn’t announced internally and so far there is no information whether NBC made a conclusion if the edit was misleading on purpose or if it was an oversight.

The 911 tape from the night of Trayvon Martin’s shooting, as initially aired by NBC, eliminated a question from the 911 dispatcher to George Zimmerman about whether Trayvon was black, white or Hispanic.

What NBC aired was George Zimmerman saying “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.”
However, the actual transcript from that part of the tape is this:

George Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.
911 Dispatcher:  OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?
George Zimmerman: (pauses briefly) He looks black.

NBC launched an internal investigation immediately after the incident, and I’m told several people other than Burnside were questioned, at WTVJ and NBC news, including a WTVJ editor or a news photographer who may have worked on the report. Burnside was suspended while the investigation was ongoing but NBC decided he was the producer and fired him last Friday. An NBC network producer who we’re told only took the edited tape from WTVJ, without checking it (I’m told it’s not unusual since it comes from an affiliate) and could not have known about the edit was also fired in this incident.

 

42 COMMENTS

  1. Firing two people for this sounds pretty harsh. They probably wanted to get rid of Burnside anyway for his (ahem….) maturity.

  2. I’ve also known Jeff Burnside as a journalist of integrity over many years. He has done an awful lot of great public service reporting, for which he’s won many well-deserved awards. He’s well respected in the field. By contrast I have to wonder about the integrity of people behind this amateur-looking rumor mill site, and nasty visitors who come in only to dislike what people like me have to say.

    • Why how dare you, Madame. Integrity? LOL. Mr. Burnedside intentionally and with malice MANIPSIDATED the news, did he not? BTW, the NYT, AP, etc. etc. are also full of award-winning ‘reporters’ who regularly piss upon the journalist’s code of ethics to score political points. Now kindly take a hike.

  3. The editing was done for political purposes at the expense of condemning a man who has not been convicted of a crime. The left should not rag on the constitution and use the justice system to railroad citizens for their racial and anti-second amendment politics. That is evil.

  4. I hope this idiot who fanned the flames of race in this case of a hispanic man and a black teen can no longer work in the industry. I understand McDonalds is currently hiring.

  5. It’s not surprising that this happened at WTVJ. WTVJ is the lowest rated, worst managed station in Miami. It is run by two former TeleMundo managers who hate Americans, hated WTVJ and only want to run their Spanish stations. The issue here is a network producer was fired for using the tape that was sent to him by WTVJ. There’s also another issue that was never addressed in this story. No manager, no producer, no anyone issued any memos telling reporters that 911 tapes should never be edited. Jeff may have been very wrong for letting this happen. It may have been just a mistake but that original 911 recording should have been taken, listened to by a manager and then distributed to the reporter or producers with a memo explaining the importance of not changing a thing.

    • So true it seems this was not managed well from the start being that it was a hot button issue. The reporter dropped the ball, but the show producer dropped the ball for not looking at his story before air, and also management was not informed of anything by the producer.

  6. I’m shocked to see Jeff Burnside swept up in this. I’ve known Jeff professionally for more than 10 years, and have always known him to be a total stickler for accuracy. He would never tinker with the truth as is being alleged here.

  7. I agree. I don’t think he would ever do it on purpose. The bottom line is he was fired and the terrible management is still there. if NBC6 had good managers, they would have made sure the tape was not changed. So many people get their hands on these tapes and they go through the hands of reporters, editors, photographers and producers. Someone at the top should have made sure that everyone knew the tape could not be changed or altered in any way.

    • My point exactly! It seems they are making the rules as they go along. C’mon people where is your experience? Why didn’t the producer and executive producer read over his script? Why wasn’t it brought up to management on a possible problem? I think their head should roll too.

  8. Remember. NBC is also the station that used photos of Trayvon Martin when he was younger. They had an opinion on this story and broke journalistic ethics. It’s nothing new for NBC. The kid never should have been killed but NBC made Zimmerman out to be the bad guy before he was ever charged.

  9. It’s a shame. No one wins in this situation. Jeff Burnside was a veteran reporter with tons of experience and a lot of credibility in the industry, especially in the environmental sector where he was considered one of the best environmental journalists around. As a researcher, I and my colleagues are very familiar with him and have always respected his work. I personally have never seen an environmental story he has done with any inkling of bias or lack of integrity. Considering the other hoards of talentless recently hired reporting staff at WTVJ, especially that one named Donna Rapada (OMG, where did they find her??? She is completely inept and journalistically vacant– In my house we turn off the channel when she comes on) you would think they’d evaluate where their true talent lies (Tester, Odzer, Gonzalez) and get rid of the awful newer hires they put on the air. They are losing viewers due to reporters like that woman, and they need to clean house. Bring back some of the old, veteran talent, and get rid of the crap!

  10. It’s a shame. No one wins in this situation. Jeff Burnside was a veteran reporter with tons of experience and a lot of credibility in the industry, especially in the evironmental sector where he was considered one of the best environmental journalists around. As a researcher, I and my colleagues are very familiar with him and respectful of his work. Considering the other hoards of talentless reporting staff at WTVJ, especially that one named Donna Rapada (OMG, where did they find her??? She is completely inept and journalistically vacant) they should consider cleaning house of their recent, weak hires and focus on aquiring better talent. Hope Jeff lands on his feet.

  11. So Burnside is another racist white moron. What else is new? I notice that those who work at NBC – NBC News, MSNBC, NBC affiliates – are all liars and thieves. They are not NBC, but ORN – the Obama Re-election Network. If you can watch ORN without laughing or crying at the terrible state of America today, you must be a liberal fool.

  12. Burnside deserves being fired. And, when Zimmerman files his civil case, NBC and Burnside will be the defendants. Manipulating the news is deplorable, but in this case, NBC’s actions could have caused innocent people to be killed or injured. The actions of Burnside and NBC should be considered criminal as well as negligent. The media, in general, has become a scum bucket of opportunists and liars.

  13. They should find who else was involved in this racist incident and clean them out. The leftist media has fanned the flames of racism, a la Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackass, and now we have an out-of-control prosecutor who is trying to frame a man (Zimmerman) because that man defended himself when a black thug tried to kill him. We need more George Zimmermans and less Trayvon Martins.

    • I remember how the clean cut Dan Rather used doctored, manipulated dossier to bring down a president, he lost his standing in American journalism, what a come-down, for a street reporter who reported from Dallas on JFK last moments. Pasting, fabricating, miscaptioning is a daily affair in every American news organization. I am not surprised that this happened, and I do not have the slightest sympathy for this unethical reporter who lost his job. Next stop for him, teach journalism in Cloumbia School of Journalism, this is what happened to a wreck named Beth Nissen, (1981) who fabricated a story in El-Salvador for Newsweek, while shagging a Newsweek bureau chief in Antigua, Guatelmala, she ended in this Communist trap, journalism school, later to report for ABC where any Lefty is more than welcome! This could be a career advancement!

      • Please remember that Dan Rather didn’t just knowingly put false documents on the air. The main point of that story that no one where paid attention to is, those documents may have not been the real ones, but no one ever asked where are the real ones. It’s like Obama’s birth certificate. he shows the real one and people say it’s a fake. Then, Dan Rather unknowingly shows documents on the are that were not the originals but the real story is, the facts about the story are correct, they just need to find the right documents. There is no question Bush lied about his service. That has been verified through people who said he never worked with them.

        • Clever explanation, and I agree with the possibility that Bush was faking much of his past, after all he was a semi retard! But he was not a sinister type like Kerry or Obama. This business with Rather could have gone much farther, to this day I am amazed on how the media chose to ignore the entire plot, which could have made an incredible thriller even if I am wrong, the scenario is fascinating. Initially, I did not want to be too clinical about it, but one could also presume that this was a clever trap set by some retired dirty ops fellow who wanted to return a favor to Papa Bush, who was cornered with the Quid Quo Pro trap Rather did on him, 1988, they organized the entire production, yes, fake documents, deliberately done in such a way that it could easily be picked by independent investigators and spread all over the internet, simultaneously as the Swift Boat operators were charging on Kerry. They had it ready (like the Soros boyz had the plan to wreck Rushbo on stand by since 2009, they took it off the shelve when Fluke did her number)and through some contacts lured Rather’s Lefty producer ( a nasty female with motives to destroy Bush) to take a look, than more was delivered, they were so giddy, being able to take down a president, few journalists could resist the temptation, and it worked, Bush was hammered for his incompetence, the casualties in 2 wars, the economy, etc, suddenly the bad story came out and instead of discussing the wind surfing, tax cheating, gigolo Kerry, the entire country was captivated by the CBS scandal. They are notorious at CBS, fabricating stories, pasting, manufacturing scandals, much like the N.Y Times or ABC’s clever insertion into the debates of the “War on Women”. I do not need to explain to pros in Florida how the media works, you are all in this big sewer and use every opportunity to steal as much as you can with your fat expense accounts. If you can take down a president, it is an extra.

    • So the reporter gets fired, but his producers and managers get to laugh about it. I think many other people besides Burnside need to suffer the consequences.

      • If WTVJ is to ever make a turn-around for the better… NBC would be cracking the ethics whip at it’s South Florida station. This isn’t the WTVJ that the late Ralph Renick helped build.

    • Seems the one defending himself was Trayvon after a wacko police wanna-be decided to follow and harrass a 17 year old boy. That is criminal, Trayvon was not doing anything illegal, he was probably defending him self from this idiot Zimmerman. So the one with the gun shoots an innocent boy. Give Zimmerman the death penalty, and the “moron award”

  14. What is so fascinating about the decline of the media is the deliberate effort of so many members of the media, not being asked or urged o create or fake the news, to do so nevertheless. Reuters and A.P are famous for pasting phony captions on photoshoppped photos to create a message that could be anti-American, or anti Israeli. The L.A Times photographers posed and photoshopped images on different major news events. The wire services post on a weekly basis phony pictures making Israeli soldiers look like some evil Nazis, while photos of Palestinians being executed by Hamas judiciary terrorists with beards,seldom show on American news pages, even though people who look for news from the region can easily see these images from multiple sources. What is clear is that the media has a mission and a purpose, to please those who can promote the ones who can produce the most sensational material and get away with it. Because most editors, producers are democrats or Lefties, the material has to be favorable to their cause. Racism is a democratic issue, a component of of the propaganda arsenal and the miscreant reporter must have had a promotion in mind.

  15. Comments here seem to be divided between people who actually have had some human contact with Jeff Burnside and tend to defend his integrity, and people who offer no evidence that they’ve ever ventured beyond their keyboard or beyond their dislike for reporters in general as a reason to crucify him, and also crucify commenters who disagree with them. We had plenty of disgraceful behavior in the McCarthy era 60 years ago. Responding to a dissenting commenter, as Tim Sanders did, as a “liberal asshole,” is not helpful to anyone, including you, Tim. Ever. Most Middle Schoolers have moved beyond this, my friend.

    • You are comparing the firing of a reporter for doctoring and distorting a news story to the McCarthy era? What could you possibly be talking about?

      Here’s Jeff Burnside’s problem. His doctored story aired on TV and there were witnesses to it. His voice was on the story. I don’t know what that has to do with Joseph McCarthy.

      Are you under the impression McCarthy was a local TV reporter in Miami?

  16. You all have convicted Jeff. He may have just made a mistake. In a time crunch, with some simple producer on your ass saying the story can’t be longer than 55 seconds, he may have edited it, not realizing that it totally changed the context of the call. Remember, a photographer, editor and several managers and producers never asked if the tape had been edited and never even listened to the story to review it. That’s because most producers at WTVJ can’t write a coherent sentence and they are just line cooks slapping a newscast together with no real thought or effort.

    • Did you panic when it was announced that alien invaders landed in Grover’s Mill in 1938? Spare me. Burnside should be pumping gas or working at Home Depot if he’s so clueless he didn’t realize the context was changed.

  17. everybody connected with that story should have been fired…stupid stupid people…it’s no wonder that no one watches network news anymore…FOX NEWS ROCKS! These people have done huge damage to the credibility of WTVJ news. It’s a long way back if ever!

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