Kirkwood parents and officials upset about a local television station’s role in a lockdown at the high school welcomed the apology the station aired Sunday night, but also said it was overdue.
KSDK led its newscast at 10 p.m. Sunday with a stronger apology for missteps in a story about school security that prompted the lockdown on Thursday at Kirkwood High School. Anchor Mike Bush said KSDK general manager Lynn Beall had apologized in person to Kirkwood Superintendent Tom Williams.
“While it was unintentional, we unnecessarily scared students, teachers and parents,” Bush said Sunday night. “... It doesn’t matter what our intentions were, we caused undue stress and fear, and we are very sorry this happened.”
On Thursday, while a Channel 5 reporter was working undercover testing school security, Kirkwood High School administrators became alarmed after the man asked for directions to the restroom and then disappeared. They called the man’s cellphone and heard a message that the man was a Channel 5 reporter. When administrators could not confirm his identity with the station, they put the school on lockdown.
That night, the station apologized while standing by its reporting. On Sunday night, Bush said Beall had met in person with Williams to apologize, and the team on the story had worked all weekend to determine “how this happened and what we could be doing differently.”
“We have already begun implementing changes to make sure nothing like this will happen again.”
Bush said “everybody at our television station deeply cares about our community” and tries to “take the high road.”
“We didn’t live up to our own standards and the standards that you deserve as viewers. We can’t change the past, but our promise to you is we will make every effort to make sure nothing like this will happen in the future.”
Kirkwood School Board President E.J. Miller said Monday that there is still quite a bit of residual anger in the community at KSDK. He pointed to a column in the student newspaper at Kirkwood High School, published the morning after the incident by a senior, laying out where the station’s journalists went wrong.
“He recognized Channel 5’s problems before they did,” Miller said. The column had more than 28,400 views on Monday, when most of the stories on the site get less than 100.
Jessica Bock of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.