'Fil-Am news producer's firing unfair'

By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Aug 10 2013 01:03 PM | Updated as of Aug 10 2013 11:18 PM

REDWOOD CITY, California - The firings of three producers at KTVU, a FOX affiliate in Oakland, California over the airing of offensive and erroneous names of Asiana Airlines pilots last July 12 has taken a racial turn.

Rodel Rodis, an officer of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations has turned to social media, calling on KTVU to apologize to the whole Asian community and the Filipino community, for firing
Filipino-American Cristina Gastelu, a special projects producer, and not Michelle Toy, a Chinese-American who worked as managing editor for the station.

An August 6th posting by Bay Area media blogger Rich Leiberman cited a source that said Toy was spared because “KTVU didn’t want to offend the Asian Community. They already did so with the fake name scandal and they were worried about a backlash.”

“But what about Gastelu who’s also Asian?,” raised Rodis. “How clueless can KTVU be to fire a Filipino-
American but not a Chinese-American because they don’t want to offend the Asian community. Do they have a sense of the Filipino community being part of the Asian community? At one point, we were even larger than the Chinese population.”

Besides Gastelu, veteran producers Roland de Wolk and Brad Belstock also lost their jobs over the fiasco.

Balitang America reached out to KTVU for comment. The station has not yet responded.

Rodis said the National Federal of Filipino-American Associations is scheduled to meet soon to talk about the KTVU firing of Gastelu. He is confident that his group will file a resolution condemning KTVU for what he calls racial insensitivity.

Gastelu refused to talk to Balitang America. But former co-worker and fellow Filipino Lloyd LaCuesta shared she’s devastated. LaCuesta was already retired when the fiasco at KTVU took place.

“She is very, very upset about what happened. She’s taken it to heart. I hope it will not follow her. I hope she’s able to get another job in this business, because she’s a very valuable journalist,” LaCuesta said.

LaCuesta, however believes the community should not turn this into an issue about race. “What I don’t want to see happen in this whole sidebar that we have about KTVU is that the focus isn’t taken off what happened in the air crash and what can be done to prevent that again,” pointed out LaCuesta.

Three died and dozens were injured after the Asiana’s Boeing 777 crash-landed onto the San Francisco
International Airport last July 6. LaCuesta concluded that instead of just protecting one’s own, people should advocate for equal treatment and better journalism practices.