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A local news website producer from WPLG Local 10 Miami issued a formal apology on Friday for the news station’s publication of an ill-conceived and poorly-received online slideshow about Star Wars Celebration VI convention fans.
The unsigned public apology on the station’s website states, in part:
“The slideshow was by no means an attempt to belittle or embarrass anyone. The intent was for it to be a fun and lighthearted look inside my experience at the Star Wars Celebration VI and the people who devote a great deal of their lives to the films we all love. Obviously, I missed the mark.
I, along with my co-workers heard from thousands of Star Wars fans, some from as far away as Ireland and Australia. They lit up our phones, filled our Facebook page and inboxes. We were called cyber bullies. Most offended were those affiliated with the 501st, an organization that donates countless hours and raises millions of dollars for charity.
I meant no harm, neither did the website. It was a weak attempt to be funny. It fell flat and offended far too many people. Really, I am sorry, and all those who work for local10.com are sorry too. And to the members of the 501st, we’ll be sure to look for opportunities to showcase the good deeds you are doing in our community and communities all over the world.”
Albin Johnson, founder of the 501st Legion costuming group, responded by thanking the station for their apology in the post’s online comments section, and added, “I am glad to speak to you as a fellow fan and am encouraged that the media can be sensitive to feelings.”
Johnson continued, “The Legion has done good, as has the Rebel Legion, Mando Mercs, R2 Builders, FanForce, and other Star Wars costuming groups … We hope our work will win more people to the ‘light side’. We thank you for being a part of the experience with us and we earnestly hope we can all have fun, do some good, and be kids all over again – together.”
The 501st Legion itself received a personal apology from David Boylan, VP and General Manager of WPLG Miami, which was posted on the Legion’s website.
Ashley Eckstein, the actress who voices Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars: The Clone Wars had described her reaction to the offending slideshow in a post on her website, “I am shocked that a post as disgraceful as this would be approved, allowed and posted to a professional website. This is the EPITOME of bullying…”
Eckstein, who is an honorary member of the 501st Legion, later responded publicly to the removal of the slideshow, “Wow, we work quick! Everything appears to have been taken down on Local10.com and even their statement on Facebook. Everyone came together and I want to reiterate that I have never been so proud to be a part of such a wonderful Universe of people.”
“We cannot control the actions of others but we can control what happens in our own community. The future generations of Star Wars fans will benefit from the positive, uplifting, safe and encouraging environment that everyone is demanding. Thank you for speaking up, we are making a difference.”