I have not knowingly experienced a media mistake, but I have tried to contact a radio station for a similar reason. Shortly after Hurricane Wilma, I was driving on the highway and heard an ad for vacationers to visit Florida. It said, “Now is a good time to visit Florida.” I thought this was in poor taste, as Wilma was the eighth hurricane to hit the state in 15 months.
At the time of the ad, Florida was still recovering from the damage of Hurricane Wilma. Officials had been concerned that thousands of people ignored a mandatory evacuation order in the Florida Keys. Even the Miami airport had been shut down. According to CNN.com, on October 25, 2005, West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel was quoted as saying, “Power’s out in the entire county. We’re getting reports of roofs and window damage, some collapsed buildings.” At least six people were killed and more than 3.2 million homes and businesses were without power, affecting more than 6 million people.
I tried to contact the radio station directly by calling the number that the DJ often mentioned for winning prizes. There was no answer at that number. I suppose the DJs were too busy with on-air issues to take a call at that time. Unfortunately, I arrived at my destination and decided to let the matter drop. I did not want to have them take my call on-air anyway.
If I had been more persistent, I would have tried to contact the station via their main number. I probably would have asked to speak to the station manager, even though I know I would have had to talk to many other people first.
I would also consider sending a letter to the station manager. I believe the media takes you more seriously if you put your opinions in writing. Anyone can spout off over the phone, but it takes real commitment to make a complaint by mail.
I imagine that it would be a little easier with a newspaper. Newspapers have editors that are responsible for content, and I am sure they appreciate input from the public. That is probably truer for errors than for opinions like the one I had about the ad. Most newspapers have Op-Ed pages for readers to have their opinions published. As for reporting errors, the editors usually research the error extensively and then print a retraction. All a radio station can do is announce the error. There is no guarantee the same listeners are still listening, however.
As for a TV station, I would probably use the same tactic as the radio station. I would call the main number and try to speak to the station manager. I would also consider writing a letter. If the station was located close by, I might even consider trying to talk to someone in person. This may even make more of a positive impression and cause them to take me more seriously.