New York Times names Controller involved with AUS FedEx/Southwest Incident

SquawkHijack

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Heard about how NYT named the controller at AUS in an article yesterday and it’s got me wondering:

Are there ramifications for a media organization to be naming public officials who are supposed to be protected from being named otherwise under implied immunity like controllers are?

I can’t imagine how this guy must feel. Obviously what he did wasn’t a good play at all, but now everyone knows who he is, where he works, and what happened in great detail. The public humiliation is real and honestly I can’t believe anyone in their right mind would trust NYT to protect their anonymity as a source moving forward from this.

Here’s what one of the two journalists who wrote the article said in the comments of a Reddit thread discussing this very issue.
 

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I think it was definitely wrong for them to name the controller in the article (even though the rest of the article was decent, imo). At the same time, so many people were shit talking them (the controller) on here and on Reddit that I basically knew who they were long before the article even got published. And I've never even met them. Lots of very easy to pinpoint anecdotes and personal info that exposed them before the NYT even had a chance, thanks to other controllers.

The journalists noted that they had 50 mostly anonymous sources contribute information, and it seems pretty obvious that some of the ones sharing insider info were fellow controllers in Austin. That's super shitty, even if you don't like the person in question. Remember, this is a smalllllllll career field. It's not hard to figure out who 90% of you are (myself included) from the stuff you post.

Does the public deserve to know how garbage our working conditions are at some facilities? Yes. Should we be publicly singling out specific controllers when nobody even traded paint that day? Hell no. By doing so, the NYT (and the sources who blabbed too much) did a disservice to the overall message that these are systemic issues. Instead, for 50% of the article, it devolves into a weird character study on [OPERATING INITIALS REDACTED] and their shitty mistake. Including their passion for poetry, and allegedly breaking down crying in the parking lot. I seriously doubt *that* shit was in an NTSB report. It makes it all seem like this was a specific problem with one controller at one facility in the NAS. I find that misleading to the public in a ton of ways.

My advice: don't talk to the media directly. Put pressure on NATCA to actually contribute some meaningful discourse in the public space. The Agency stooge they quoted made it sound like this all happens because of the schedules *we* choose at our facilities, and glossed over the staffing and fatigue issues. They shouldn't have a monopoly on talking about *our* working conditions.

Don't even get me started on how this contributes to a chilling of our self-reporting safety culture. Why speak up anonymously and still risk getting doxxed to millions of readers across the country, when you can sweep your mistakes under the rug and stay hidden? Completely undermines the spirit of ATSAP by introducing trial by public opinion to otherwise internal matters.
 
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I think it was definitely wrong for them to name the controller in the article (even though the rest of the article was decent, imo). At the same time, so many people were shit talking them (the controller) on here and on Reddit that I basically knew who they were long before the article even got published. And I've never even met them. Lots of very easy to pinpoint anecdotes and personal info that exposed them before the NYT even had a chance, thanks to other controllers.

The journalists noted that they had 50 mostly anonymous sources contribute information, and it seems pretty obvious that some of the ones sharing insider info were fellow controllers in Austin. That's super shitty, even if you don't like the person in question. Remember, this is a smalllllllll career field. It's not hard to figure out who 90% of you are (myself included) from the stuff you post.

Does the public deserve to know how garbage our working conditions are at some facilities? Yes. Should we be publicly singling out specific controllers when nobody even traded paint that day? Hell no. By doing so, the NYT (and the sources who blabbed too much) did a disservice to the overall message that these are systemic issues. Instead, for 50% of the article, it devolves into a weird character study on [OPERATING INITIALS REDACTED] and their shitty mistake. Including their passion for poetry, and allegedly breaking down crying in the parking lot. I seriously doubt *that* shit was in an NTSB report. It makes it all seem like this was a specific problem with one controller at one facility in the NAS. I find that misleading to the public in a ton of ways.

My advice: don't talk to the media directly. Put pressure on NATCA to actually contribute some meaningful discourse in the public space. The Agency stooge they quoted made it sound like this all happens because of the schedules *we* choose at our facilities, and glossed over the staffing and fatigue issues. They shouldn't have a monopoly on talking about *our* working conditions.

Don't even get me started on how this contributes to a chilling of our self-reporting safety culture. Why speak up anonymously and still risk getting doxxed to millions of readers across the country, when you can sweep your mistakes under the rug and stay hidden? Completely undermines the spirit of ATSAP by introducing trial by public opinion to otherwise internal matters.
No controller should ever talk to Emily Steel again. She has burned each and every bridge.
 
No controller should ever talk to Emily Steel again. She has burned each and every bridge.
No controller should talk to any journalist. Period.

I don't particularly fault the NYT for publishing the details insiders served them on a silver platter. That's how the media operates, and the ones who "anonymously" contributed were naïve for thinking otherwise. No laws broken, no ramifications for the press. The machine spits out data that's only as good as the data we feed it.

Again, NATCA needs to speak up, proactively and frequently. Get ahead of these stories, lay the facts out in a way that the public can understand, and get the message across that the Situation is Normal: All Fucked Up here in ATC, despite what the agency says.
 
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(even though the rest of the article was decent, imo).

I agree with pretty much everything you said except this. I thought the article was, at times, distractingly dramatized and showed that the people writing the article either dont know anything about aviation or chose to forget what they know. Quotes like

"“One Eight Left cleared to land,” Mr. Campbell rat-a-tatted in response, using code for the 9,000-foot runway 18L."

and

"They yanked the cargo plane up and gunned the engines to avoid landing on top of the smaller jet,"

only exist to try to cloak aviation in mystery and suspense.
 
I agree with pretty much everything you said except this. I thought the article was, at times, distractingly dramatized and showed that the people writing the article either dont know anything about aviation or chose to forget what they know. Quotes like

"“One Eight Left cleared to land,” Mr. Campbell rat-a-tatted in response, using code for the 9,000-foot runway 18L."

and

"They yanked the cargo plane up and gunned the engines to avoid landing on top of the smaller jet,"

only exist to try to cloak aviation in mystery and suspense.
"Code" LMAOO
 
I agree with pretty much everything you said except this. I thought the article was, at times, distractingly dramatized and showed that the people writing the article either dont know anything about aviation or chose to forget what they know. Quotes like

"“One Eight Left cleared to land,” Mr. Campbell rat-a-tatted in response, using code for the 9,000-foot runway 18L."

and

"They yanked the cargo plane up and gunned the engines to avoid landing on top of the smaller jet,"

only exist to try to cloak aviation in mystery and suspense.
The effort to dramatize and sensationalize article written by the media are so obvious it’s cringe. A few times, the facts have been stretched so bad by writers who know nothing of the subject they’re reporting on that they’ve had to apologize for misinformation. We’re seeing it more and more with aviation particularly. If it can be spun into something that seems like someone messed up, they pounce!

The “gunned the engines” part killed me. Anyone that’s ever taken a fam flight or flown a turboprop/fan aircraft knows there’s so much delay after moving the throttles.

I think it was definitely wrong for them to name the controller in the article (even though the rest of the article was decent, imo). At the same time, so many people were shit talking them (the controller) on here and on Reddit that I basically knew who they were long before the article even got published. And I've never even met them. Lots of very easy to pinpoint anecdotes and personal info that exposed them before the NYT even had a chance, thanks to other controllers.

The journalists noted that they had 50 mostly anonymous sources contribute information, and it seems pretty obvious that some of the ones sharing insider info were fellow controllers in Austin. That's super shitty, even if you don't like the person in question. Remember, this is a smalllllllll career field. It's not hard to figure out who 90% of you are (myself included) from the stuff you post.

Does the public deserve to know how garbage our working conditions are at some facilities? Yes. Should we be publicly singling out specific controllers when nobody even traded paint that day? Hell no. By doing so, the NYT (and the sources who blabbed too much) did a disservice to the overall message that these are systemic issues. Instead, for 50% of the article, it devolves into a weird character study on [OPERATING INITIALS REDACTED] and their shitty mistake. Including their passion for poetry, and allegedly breaking down crying in the parking lot. I seriously doubt *that* shit was in an NTSB report. It makes it all seem like this was a specific problem with one controller at one facility in the NAS. I find that misleading to the public in a ton of ways.

My advice: don't talk to the media directly. Put pressure on NATCA to actually contribute some meaningful discourse in the public space. The Agency stooge they quoted made it sound like this all happens because of the schedules *we* choose at our facilities, and glossed over the staffing and fatigue issues. They shouldn't have a monopoly on talking about *our* working conditions.

Don't even get me started on how this contributes to a chilling of our self-reporting safety culture. Why speak up anonymously and still risk getting doxxed to millions of readers across the country, when you can sweep your mistakes under the rug and stay hidden? Completely undermines the spirit of ATSAP by introducing trial by public opinion to otherwise internal matters.
Damn well put!
 
Look - I don't support naming the controllers (in general) in the article. On the other hand, that information will be accessible to anyone who wants it bad enough, eventually. I remember a few years back I was able to find the name of the SCT controller online that nearly sent EVA into a mountain through simple Googling - as well as her immediate supervisor, coworkers on shift at the time, and more. Of course, having to dig for that information is far different than blasting the name in a major national news outlet.

On the other hand, I am absolutely fed up with NATCA. Conditions are bad, pay hasn't kept up, morale is low, overtime is killing us... not a peep from NATCA. Props to the NYT for bringing public attention to this.

But when it comes to defending horrible controllers, they will fight tooth and nail to keep them employed and on the boards. Wish they spent 1/10 of that effort on improving conditions for the 90% of us who do the job well. And I'm not talking about the solid CPC that has a minor slip up, I'm talking about controllers of the same caliber as the AUS guy who have a 10+ year history of horrible dangerous performance and major behavior issues - guys who couldn't be trusted to man the parking booth let alone work live traffic at a fairly complicated airport. He should've been long gone, and I don't necessarily blame fellow AUS controllers for ratting him out if that's what is takes to finally get rid of the turd.
 
It’s not really dramatized. 150 people were about to go to heaven if the pilot didn’t start controlling himself. No way to sugar coat it. Natca or NTSB or media should be slamming the fact that there isn’t ground radar at every airport and how basically there’s different safety standards across the NAS due to funding. there’s no excuse to not have ground radar with ADSB. You can see the planes taxiing around on friggen FR24
 
He should've been long gone, and I don't necessarily blame fellow AUS controllers for ratting him out if that's what is takes to finally get rid of the turd.
I'm not disputing that some people have no place in this career whatsoever, but how does doxxing them in the New York Times get rid of them? If anything, I think the agency would be quicker to hand out harsh discipline to someone over leaks to the media than they would over a literal deal.

I agree it's too hard to get rid of problem controllers, and yes NATCA needs to hone their messaging. But we had a major legacy media platform to get some serious points across, and instead we got a muddled story about one facility and focus on... ASDE I guess? The only NATCA quote in the whole thing is about how it was wrong to name the controller. Such a joke.

The NYT doesn't talk about ATC on the regular, and I think we collectively blew it (along with the journalists) when it came to getting the staffing, fatigue, and pay issues into the spotlight. The general public reads this stuff and just thinks, "wow, guess I shouldn't fly into Austin." Not a whole lot of sympathy for us amongst voters and the dinosaurs in Congress. That's gotta change. I think the next time this hits the NYT it'll be because of the first major fatal accident since 2009.
 
The guy in AUS is an idiot, but his idiocy is the failure of the FAA and NATCA that have let his antics outside-the-operation continue. I don’t like that he got publicly outed though because that means any of us who make a mistake can be outed and our lives ruined too.

I’m sure most of us got a message from that “journalist” on Reddit but I didn’t even blink before deleting it. It serves no reward and all risk to do that without the backing of the union - you know they’ll throw you under the bus if you did it on your own.
 
Naming and shaming should get these people out of the career field forever. You fuck up bad enough then maybe you shouldn't just get a slap on the wrist. Teterboro dude that killed people got leaked, too bad he's working again according to some articles I saw.
 
The “gunned the engines” part killed me. Anyone that’s ever taken a fam flight or flown a turboprop/fan aircraft knows there’s so much delay after moving the throttles.

Being a little picky, aren’t we? I actually thought compared to most aviation articles you read, this one was well researched and coherent. I’m glad they shed light on this situation. The public deserves to know what happened and some factors that played into it. This was a serious event and people actually almost got killed, and that’s not being sensational.

I do have a problem with them naming the controller though. To me, there’s really no reason for it. Why does the public need to know exactly who this controller was? What would they need that information for? The authors use the excuse that the names are usually revealed over the course of the investigation, but I just don’t see the value of “breaking” that part of the story. Other than that, the article was really good, I thought.
 
I'm not disputing that some people have no place in this career whatsoever, but how does doxxing them in the New York Times get rid of them? If anything, I think the agency would be quicker to hand out harsh discipline to someone over leaks to the media than they would over a literal deal.

I think it was more of an "eff you" from his fellow controllers who are at their breaking point with his antics. Probably won't directly get him finally fired but the fact that multiple current and former controllers spilled the beans on him and are okay with the NYT publishing it says quite a lot.

It'd be much more effective if they plastered the names of any AUS management that hasn't tried to terminate him despite being well-aware of his issues. Doubly so for anyone that went against the recommendation that he be washed out of training. Once the heat and national attention is on spinless management, I think the problem would be fixed overnight.
 
I think it was more of an "eff you" from his fellow controllers who are at their breaking point with his antics. Probably won't directly get him finally fired but the fact that multiple current and former controllers spilled the beans on him and are okay with the NYT publishing it says quite a lot.

It'd be much more effective if they plastered the names of any AUS management that hasn't tried to terminate him despite being well-aware of his issues. Doubly so for anyone that went against the recommendation that he be washed out of training. Once the heat and national attention is on spinless management, I think the problem would be fixed overnight.
Probably should post the names of the SBN and that districts management as well.
 
I think it was more of an "eff you" from his fellow controllers who are at their breaking point with his antics. Probably won't directly get him finally fired but the fact that multiple current and former controllers spilled the beans on him and are okay with the NYT publishing it says quite a lot.

It'd be much more effective if they plastered the names of any AUS management that hasn't tried to terminate him despite being well-aware of his issues. Doubly so for anyone that went against the recommendation that he be washed out of training. Once the heat and national attention is on spinless management, I think the problem would be fixed overnight.
Next post all the atsaps when he was the other controller
 
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