Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rough Week for Broadcasting

My favorite local TV news station has had a bit of a rough week. First, an anchor presenting a segment about a man burned in a small kitchen fire either read some bad copy or suffered a slip of the tongue when relaying advice from the fire department:

“…every home should have a fire hydrant in the kitchen…”

Fire hydrants are, of course, the very large metal devices located on street corners that supply water to fire engines. You know – like this:

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
The anchor obviously meant to say “fire extinguisher,” which is one of these:

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
Fortunately, this important safety tip was correctly reported in the station’s online story:

“Every home should have a fire extinguisher rated for use in a variety of fires, firefighters said.”

The same station's online accuracy took a hit a few days later in a story about a man who fought off a pair of loose dogs that attacked his dog, and then attacked him:

“The man ran out to help his dog and was bitten in the process. It's unclear which man bit the dog.

Several commenters pointed out this cranial cramp before the comments section spiraled into a heated debate over dog breeds, gun rights, and general insults about who was being ruder to whom on the forum. Predictably, a few people rebutted the “typo police” with their own misspelled, incorrectly punctuated, uncapitalized, run-on comments. My favorite, reprinted here verbatim, came from “Melissa”:

“omg, its called a typo, there news casters! normal people like you and me, there not the gods of grammar, get over it for crying out loud.”

To which “lsilvest” replied:

“They are paid professionals (ostensibly) and are held to a higher standard.  They should know how to use a spell-checker and should always proof read their articles.  The posts from the local stations consistently have errors, many of which actually change the meaning and are often misleading.”

(Such as confusing a fire hydrant with a fire extinguisher…)

So why are typos such a big deal? One answer can be found in a commenter’s advice to an emotionally charged young man whose own dog was attacked and killed by the same pair of loose dogs:

“Please try some grammar/capitalzation[sic]/punctuation. It may help others understand your position.”

More on that in my next post…

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