Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Spellcheck Doesn’t Make the News

We’ve all seen them on various news channels: typos in captions, graphics, and breaking news crawls. Even my husband, who freely admits to being a bad speller, is starting to notice more and more mistakes on the local news broadcasts. The errors are that obvious.

It begs the question: Don’t the TV station computers have spellcheck?

I asked this question of an acquaintance who does A/V production, and the answer turns out to be No – at least, the machines used for captioning footage or still graphics don’t have spellcheck capability.

That explains, but certainly does not excuse, these recent captions:

“Solidat Killed” (for a story about a fallen soldier)

“Stanger Danger” (about a child’s near-abduction)

“Sherrif’s Office” (seen on a regular basis)

While it seems that the common factor is that all of these examples start with the letter ‘S’, the real reason is that people simply aren’t paying attention, and no one is checking work before it goes on air. Now, it’s not unusual for errors to happen when news crews are cranking out stories at top speed. But these mistakes were embedded in video packages that were likely prepared well ahead of the newscast. They were not breaking stories.

Interestingly, my spellcheck did not highlight “Stanger” when capitalized (probably because it could be a last name), but it did when I put the word into all lowercase letters.

Spellcheck is not infallible, but it certainly does help. Maybe someday that feature will make it into A/V equipment.

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