Some people love to point out broadcast typos whenever they see them. But some of those mistakes really take the prize.
If you know me and sports, you know we’re not necessarily friends. But sports is just one of many subjects in which super-embarrassing broadcast typos occur.
Consider the aftermath of a Big 10 Tournament game between Indiana and Iowa. One local station displayed a graphic during post-game comments. The graphic clearly meant to credit player Jordan Bohannon for making the “game-winning shot.”
There are a pair of words that scare the hell out me any time I use them in my real job. Those two, perfectly innocent words are shot and shut.
I might write a headline and story about a person being shot during an attempted armed robbery. Or, I might write up a story about a bad accident that forced police to shut down a portion of an interstate.
For either story of that type, I might even send a push alert. If you use my station’s app, you might see it pop up on your smartphone. The headline, the story, and the push alert are three places I can spectacularly screw up those two simple words.
Instead of using an O in shot or a U in shut, if I mistype and click an I, well, you can imagine how terrible that little faux pas would look.
At that post-game news conference, one station experienced a reminder of that problem:
You can easily blame a lack of proofreading.
But don’t blame the “staff of proofreaders” because in television stations — and even for a growing number of newspapers — there aren’t any. Those roles are things of the past.
Most graphics programs — the kind that generate the graphic above — don’t have built-in spell-check functions. So you hope the single person who types it and, perhaps, the second set of eyes that reviews it, will catch it before it gets on the air.
Sometimes, unfortunately, that doesn’t happen.
No one intends the mistake to get on the air. No one plans it. We all know accidents will happen. We all know we need to double-check more carefully than most of us do.
Once in a while, we see, in dramatic fashion, the consequences of failing to do so.
It’s not that proofreading is a dying art. It’s that there’s more pressure and less time, and that’s true in every field.