Worst Media Errors Of 2013: The Typos, Errors, And Corrections That Made Everyone Wince
We all make mistakes — a flub here, a misspelled word there — and it's not that big of a deal. But if you're a political organization or giant media company, your mistakes tend to get noticed, shared with coworkers and friends, put through the relentless social media grinder, and roundly mocked until someone apologizes for or acknowledges the gaffe. And then you get another chance at humiliation with lists like this one. Tough break.
In 2013, we saw some pretty fantastic flaws put out by local news stations, the White House communications department, and even the Vatican. Since the 24/7 news cycle demands up-to-the-second reporting from fallible human beings, typos happen. Sometimes, these typos are more like a complete falsification of facts — ahem, 60 Minutes ' report on Benghazi — which require extreme scrutiny.
Still, breaking news is a tricky breast, and we've come to expect that the press will make some mistakes when it comes to breaking news. Is it right? No. Does it happen? Of course. Can we laugh at and/or berate it? Absolutely.
Typos from Political and Religious Organizations
- On Wednesday, Egypt's State Information Service head Amgad Abdel-Ghaffar resigned — over a banner. The sign, which was on display at a press conference Sunday, was supposed to promote the country's new constitution. But it misspelled the word "Egyptians" and featured "non-Egyptians whose photos had been taken from commercial websites in Ireland and the US." Ruh-roh.
- In the scramble to get Americans signed up for Obamacare, the White House's Twitter made a silly typo: A photo stating "#GetCovered because your mom will have piece of mind (and you will as well)." The White House probably doesn't want you to give your mom a piece of your mind because she's done raising you and healthcare is damn expensive.
- In another Twitter typo for the White House — although this one is much, much worse — Deputy Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer accidentally hit the "n" key instead of the "b," and the word he was trying to spell was "bigger." So, like we said, it was bad.
- After Pope Francis was sworn in, the Vatican commissioned medals to be made in his honor. The only problem? Jesus was misspelled as "Lesus."
Gaffes in Big Media
- Greatest New York Times correction ever? Everyone and their mother changed their Twitter handles to get into the Halloween spirit, but the Times actually thought this writer's name was Chillian J. Yikes! Oh, you old gray lady.
- Hey, remember when doomed New York City mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner's sexting name was revealed to be Carlos Danger? It was fun while it lasted ... even though Slate got Weiner's name wrong in the Carlos Danger Name Generator.
- There was also that hot second when The Huffington Post thought the Berlin Wall was built by the Nazis.
- But the worst comes from — you guessed it — the New York Post. After the Boston Marathon bombing, the newspaper's front page screamed "BAG MEN," implicating two men who had nothing to do with the attack. Editor Col Allen remained firm on the paper's decision, saying, "We stand by our story. The image was emailed to law enforcement agencies yesterday afternoon 'seeking information about these men,' as our story reported. We did not identify them as suspects." Regardless, the Post is being sued for libel.
Local Media Screw-Ups
- This one deserves a serious facepalm. In July, San Francisco's KTVU announced they had learned the names of pilots involved in the crash of Asiana Flight 214 at the city's international airport. But these names, which the station said were confirmed by the NTSB, were horribly wrong and extremely racist — they included "Captain Sum Ting Wong" and "Ho Lee Fuk." The station profusely apologized later in the day, but some producers were fired after the incident.
- Ah, the Minnesota's Free Press of Mankato's now-infamous "Rapefruit" design — otherwise known as the "most unfortunate article headline in print journalism history." Ouch.
- And last but not least, who can forget when visibly nervous rookie North Dakota news anchor A.J. Clemente had the worst first day ever when he dropped the f-bomb live on air and was subsequently fired? Poor A.J.