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When Chyrons go very, very, very, very, very, very, very bad.
February 6, 2002 9:05 PM   Subscribe

When Chyrons go very, very, very, very, very, very, very bad. (Or, How To Lose Your Job In Just One Second) Niger Innis is the spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality, one of those scary conservative African-American groups. He's also a regular MSNBC pundit. Well, he was on there the other day talking about Enron, and whoever was in charge of plugging the names into the rundown that hour was a little sloppy with his or her typing and ... well, just click on the link.
posted by aaron (68 comments total)

 
This is exactly the reason I didn't name my kid Ashole.
posted by Doug at 9:10 PM on February 6, 2002


Call me crazy, but a typo with, as far as I know, no proof of intent to produce a racist statement shouldn't mean that anyone should get fired.
posted by skallas at 9:15 PM on February 6, 2002


aaron: why do African Americans who profess conservative beliefs "scare" you? are you uncomfortable that they don't fit into some neat little view of the world you have? does it make you uncomfortable that they may perceive things differently then the way you feel that people of color should ?
posted by nobody_knose at 9:19 PM on February 6, 2002


WTF's a Chyron?
posted by Mid at 9:22 PM on February 6, 2002


Yes, everyone knows if Black people arn't bleeding heart librals, then they are just pupets of the white man. Just ask Clarence Thomas.
posted by delmoi at 9:23 PM on February 6, 2002


Chyron's the name of the machine that video types use to make those captions/titles on the TV. At least, it was 10 years ago or so.
posted by UncleFes at 9:27 PM on February 6, 2002


Hallelujah!
posted by holloway at 9:28 PM on February 6, 2002


Chyron is the name of the system that stations use to overlay (or did back in the day... don't know if they still use them) computer graphics over video. And if something you type is going to be seen by a million or so people, you check it 10 times. Unless there were extrordinary circumstances, I'd can the guy/gal.
posted by thebigpoop at 9:29 PM on February 6, 2002


Damn you and your quick typing, Fes.
posted by thebigpoop at 9:30 PM on February 6, 2002


Perhaps the chyron operator moonlights at Merit Industries.
posted by gazingus at 9:32 PM on February 6, 2002


Call me crazy, but a typo with, as far as I know, no proof of intent to produce a racist statement shouldn't mean that anyone should get fired.


Call me crazy, but why shouldn't someone be fired for doing their job so poorly in such a visible medium?
posted by gyc at 9:32 PM on February 6, 2002


My job used to be putting together the rundown for a cable news show (not on MSNBC though). Basically, the way TV news software works - very roughly speaking - is that you have a two-column window on your screen: On the right you plug in the list of everything that's going to air that half-hour: Report from Afghanistan runs from the 15 second mark to the 1:20 mark, then a live in-studio interview from 1:45 to 3:20, and so on. Those notes are for the director to follow, so he knows that the "play" button gets pushed on the Afghan tape at exactly 15 seconds in, that he is to push the button to put the anchor back on at precisely 1:20, etc. And then you fill in the teleprompter copy for the anchor in between those notes. In my example above, you'd have the anchor spending the time from 1:20 to 1:45 introducing his live guest. (The software automatically calculates for you when you've entered enough copy for the anchor to fill exactly 25 seconds; ain't technology neat?)

Anyway, all that is on the right. On the left side is all the data that goes into the Chyrons (the graphics you see on the screen) along with the exact times they should appear on screen. Everything goes there: the names of the anchors at the top of the hour, "Ashleigh Banfield, Pakistan", "file photos," everything. You then combine these with certain codes so that the computer knows to put your words with graphic X. For example, in this case, MSNBC's computer may assign the number "4312" to the "Enron Mess" graphic.

My point, and I do have one, is that all those things are inserted into the computer well ahead of time, unless you're in the middle of a special report, which this wasn't. So a) This was probably sitting in the computer for at least a half-hour ahead of time - more likely a number of hours, since Innis was probably booked for that slot a long while earlier - and you're supposed to go over these things ahead of time, more than once, to look for typos and things like this. The director also loads the each Chyron up at least a few moments ahead of time on an internal monitor, and is supposed to eyeball it and make sure it's okay. (If not, he has the prerogative to ignore it; better no ID at all than a misspelled one.) And yet nobody caught this at any point. I suppose I'm asking: HOW?! This is one of the most blatant screaming typos a human being can make: It's like putting MOTHERFUCKER on the screen in 24-point all-caps in terms of Things You Can Hardly Believe Nobody Sees. I'm not accusing anyone at MSNBC of intentionally allowing this blooper through, because - yes skallas, I think more than one person probably got in big trouble over this, if not actually fired; it's not the sort of "little joke" you let slip through if you have any desire for continued employment. I'm just dumbfounded by how nobody there managed to catch this.

nobody_knose: It was sarcasm. You've been around here long enough to know my political leanings, haven't you?


posted by aaron at 9:33 PM on February 6, 2002


Hee hee hee, C- in typing 101 for accuracy but DAMN was I speedy!
posted by UncleFes at 9:34 PM on February 6, 2002


I find irony in all of the spelling mistakes in this thread.
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 9:39 PM on February 6, 2002


Hee hee hee, C- in typing 101 for accuracy but DAMN was I speedy!

Cf. via Metafilter

Yes, I shall spend the rest of my Mefi career linking to previously links.
posted by EngineBeak at 9:45 PM on February 6, 2002


"previously links"

Hope you enjoyed that, hotdoughnutsnow.
posted by EngineBeak at 9:46 PM on February 6, 2002


By the way, "Inis" is also Tagalog for "annoyed." You are free to read what irony you can into that.
posted by brownpau at 9:46 PM on February 6, 2002


"aaron: why do African Americans who profess conservative beliefs "scare" you? are you uncomfortable that they don't fit into some neat little view of the world you have? does it make you uncomfortable that they may perceive things differently then the way you feel that people of color should ?"


/me watches nobody_knose as he tries his hand at baiting.
posted by jcterminal at 9:48 PM on February 6, 2002


"Inis" is also Tagalog for "annoyed."

Sure, but what about INNIS? (double-n)
posted by davidmsc at 9:52 PM on February 6, 2002


That is hilarious. And working for a few years in the totally mean medium of television production, you can get fired for the most innocent of mistakes.

There was a local news outfit that we received in my hometown that was notorious for really bad production values and horrendous mistakes. The anchor was this bleached blond woman and while she was reading the news one night, a title from the upcoming weather segment appeared at the bottom of the screen: "Frigid!", complete with little icicles hanging off the letters. It remained there for almost 5 minutes.

But that was a podunk local outfit. I can't believe that MSNBC would let something like that slip by.
posted by evanizer at 9:59 PM on February 6, 2002


We've been through this before. News media are constructed on a very short time frame by a large number of very rushed people. Errors are going to slip through. Newspapers have a lot more time to get stuff right than broadcast media (hours rather than minutes), and they still have to constantly run 'We regret the error' boxes on their editorial pages.

To err is human. Get used to it. Sometimes the errors will be funny, sometimes they will be horrifying, sometimes they will actually cause harm. We should do everything reasonable to minimize them, but it's unreasonable to expect any enterprise to be error-free.

Assuming this is, in fact, an error, and not someone who lost a bar bet, or stupidly took a dare. If it's deliberate, he deserves to fry.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 10:06 PM on February 6, 2002


The small weekly paper I used to work at had an actual ban on ever using the word "public" in a headline. It was just too dangerous. Or so they concluded after a headline about someone receiving a "pubic reprimand" was printed.
posted by argybarg at 10:06 PM on February 6, 2002


why is that anytime someone makes a comment from a right of Fidel perspective they are labeled as either a "flamebaiter" or a "troll"?
posted by nobody_knose at 10:11 PM on February 6, 2002


Good question. Another good question:

Why is it that whenever someone from a right of Fidel perspective gets accused of trolling, it can only be attributed to the MeFi liberal conspiracy? Weeeeeird.
posted by Hildago at 10:18 PM on February 6, 2002


There is a legendary (in the newspaper industry) incident from Tennesee where an assistant sports editor working the night shift threw in a paragraph full of profanity and sexual hoohah about a high school soccer player for the amusement of his reporters, and it slipped through. The pape got sued (lost big), the editor who wrote the paragraph and the reporter who originally wrote the story both got jettisoned with exteme prejudice. But the paragraph was horrible - the phrases "donkeyd**ks" and "c*m-breath" were prominently displayed. I got a photocopy of it around here somewhere, email me and I'll scan and send it to you.
posted by UncleFes at 10:18 PM on February 6, 2002


nobody_knose: you're already in the quicksand, dude. Stop moving around, and perhaps someone will reach you a clue.
posted by dhartung at 10:22 PM on February 6, 2002


Aaron's long explanation brings back memories of the US's reason on why their bombs destroyed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade a while back. Unintentional, outdated maps? What bull.
posted by dai at 10:33 PM on February 6, 2002


Was this typed on a Dvorak?
posted by Poagao at 10:33 PM on February 6, 2002


UncleFes, I got a million of things like that (OK, maybe a half-dozen), and I'd regale you with all of 'em if I weren't at work, making sure all the words in my headlines are spelled correctly.

My favorite? The caption beneath a basketball team photo in some tiny little newspaper that identified one player as "some f***er." (I believe I still have a photocopy of it lying around someplace.) Naturally, the kid's parents complained, but it wasn't what you'd think. Seems the mistake (such a tame word for it) was caught and fixed in the middle of the press run, and the parents saw a later copy. But the later copy spelled the poor kid's name wrong. Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed.
posted by diddlegnome at 10:35 PM on February 6, 2002


That would be "a million things," not "a million of things."
posted by diddlegnome at 10:36 PM on February 6, 2002


Aaron's long explanation brings back memories of the US's reason on why their bombs destroyed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade a while back. Unintentional, outdated maps? What bull.

So you're saying he's lying?
posted by insomnyuk at 10:44 PM on February 6, 2002


Embassy? Belgrade?

That, my dear, is a troll.
posted by evanizer at 10:50 PM on February 6, 2002


I agree with Aaron. I don't agree with outdated maps explanation.
posted by dai at 10:50 PM on February 6, 2002


I didn't realize anyone even watched MSNBC or that they were still a network...

anyway- accidents happen- get over it...I worked in QA for a huge web developer- we did Fortune 500 sites- you should have seen the stuff that our programmers churned out...much worse- luckily, our stuff didn't go live immediately....we were there to catch it...

racisim is evil - destroying someone's career to satisfy your white upper middle class guilt is stupid and self-serving.
posted by ayukna at 11:03 PM on February 6, 2002


dhartung: huh? “quicksand”? what is this, friggin survivor island? anyways dude, you totally prove my point: for all the “open minds" crap y’all like to trumpet, there is a very quick wagon-circle anytime sombody strays from the accepted ideological path. it seems to especially upset you when the folks leaving the path are of color.
posted by nobody_knose at 11:26 PM on February 6, 2002


For the love a Jesus nobody_knose, our good buddy aaron is a certified member of Mefi's Conservative CabalTM. Which is what everyone's been trying to tell you.
posted by owillis at 12:54 AM on February 7, 2002


I just started laughing and crying at the same time. I feel soooo bad for that guy, but it's so goddamned funny....I need to go to bed.
posted by trioperative at 12:55 AM on February 7, 2002


"Here in Wisconsin, our beloved Gov. Tommy Thompson is having a veto-fest at the
capitol. So far, he's cut over 400 items from the current budget with no signs
of stopping. On Aug 1st, The Green Bay Press-Gazette, a nationally respected
newspaper, carried the story on page 1. The 2-inch headline was supposed to
read:
THOMPSON'S PEN IS A SWORD

Unfortunately, the spacing was a bit off, so unsuspecting Green Bay readers
sat down with their morning coffee to learn:

THOMPSON'S PENIS A SWORD"

source
posted by pekar wood at 4:40 AM on February 7, 2002


Great find and thread intro, aaron -- thanks!
posted by verdezza at 5:05 AM on February 7, 2002


nobody_knose used the word "dude".

I need a drink.

Oh, and Aaron, thanks for the post/link. Good one, even though nobody_knose tried to ruin it for everyone. Evanizer's "frigid" story just about killed me.
posted by Outlawyr at 6:17 AM on February 7, 2002


Oh, hush. Aaron made a conscious decision to use an emotionally charged word like 'scary' and nobody_knose called him on it. Good for nobody_knose. And frankly, discussion about the new wave of conservative minority groups is far more interesting than 'Haw! Dirty words on TV!'
posted by eamondaly at 6:32 AM on February 7, 2002


"scary" is an "emotionally charged word"? Please. Aaron and I can barely see each other, we're so far apart ideologically, but even I could tell it was sarcasm--which nobody_knose (and apparently others) missed, and then tried to save face. No big deal, but let's not pretend something happened that didn't.
posted by jpoulos at 6:51 AM on February 7, 2002


if anyone cares enough, we in the industry (of media not making errors, ha ha) have famous bloopers, too. You can find 'em here. (Romenesko's MediaNews)
posted by krewson at 6:51 AM on February 7, 2002


The Daily News covered this mishap in this morning's edition. Profuse apologies, Innis was cool about it, but no word about any new job openings. Damn.
posted by aaron at 7:02 AM on February 7, 2002


I had a long discussion about MSNBC, particularly the Imus in the Morning broadcast from 6AM - 9AM EST Weekdays. You see, Don Imus is funny, somehow, and perceptive, somehow. I'm not sure what it is, but I'd like any input.

If I am awake from 6AM -9AM and for some reason Buffy isn't on, I will not only listen to Imus in the Morning, but watch it. Does anyone know why?
posted by goneill at 7:16 AM on February 7, 2002


Hey, I don't know anything about Aaron or his ideology. I do know that he was obviously trying to say something, and did a pretty awful job of phrasing if the intent was sarcasm. How about 'one of those "scary" conservative African-American groups'? How about dropping the line altogether?

In any case, Aaron's a grown-up. Whether his intent was sarcasm or otherwise, he opened the door. I think it's ridiculous to criticize someone for pointing that out.

So Aaron! Out of curiosity, what was the intent?
posted by eamondaly at 7:18 AM on February 7, 2002


he was saying that not all black people are puppets of the democratic party...

this thread is like science... only harder.
posted by techgnollogic at 7:52 AM on February 7, 2002


The link is 404'ing. Anyone have a mirror?
posted by Sinner at 7:56 AM on February 7, 2002


Almost certainly fake, but amusing anyway:

>Subject: The Weather
>
>This had most of the state of Michigan laughing for 2
>days and a very embarrassed female news anchor who
>will, in the future, likely think before she speaks.
>
>What happens when you predict snow but don't get
>any....
>
>True story... a female news anchor who, the day after it
>was supposed to have snowed and didn't, turned to Bob,
>the weatherman and asked : "So Bob, where's that 8
>inches you promised me last night?"
>
>Not only did HE have to leave the set, but half the
>crew did too they were laughing so hard!
posted by NortonDC at 8:23 AM on February 7, 2002


The original link was moved here.
posted by pmurray63 at 8:29 AM on February 7, 2002


The new link. (The TVBarn guy moved it to get a pointer to his home page in there.)
posted by daveadams at 8:29 AM on February 7, 2002


2.6.02, 9:05pm: sarcasm (or ability to detect said) officially dead. move along. nothing to see here, folks.
posted by owillis at 9:29 AM on February 7, 2002


2.6.02, 9:05pm: sarcasm (or ability to detect said) officially dead. move along. nothing to see here, folks.
posted by owillis at 9:32 AM on February 7, 2002


repeat twice for effect.
posted by owillis at 9:34 AM on February 7, 2002


Eamon: EVERYONE else here on MeFi knew my intent except for you and nobody_knose, and both of you have been called on the carpet in this thead multiple times for your attempts to spin your way out of your misguided kneejerk reaction. Just accept that you screwed up and move on.
posted by aaron at 10:27 AM on February 7, 2002


racisim is evil - destroying someone's career to satisfy your white upper middle class guilt is stupid and self-serving.

It seems to me that if a person is charged with chyroning the names of guests on an internationally broadcast cable network, accuracy is one of the single most important aspects of that job. It also seems to me that in the case of words or names which are so close to other words which should never be used in an on-screen graphic, especially as a misspelling of a person's name, the chyron graphic should be checked, double checked and triple checked for accuracy before appearing live on the air.

If the inaccuracy had been an obscene misspelling of the last name "Fuchs" or "Smits" the chyron person would almost certainly be just as unemployed as they were for the doubly insulting, completely avoidable inaccuracy which occured with Mr. Innis. You'd have a hard time suggesting that a dismissal in this case was anything other than a just firing for cause -- the chyron person compounded the understandable error of a typo (I'm giving benefit of the doubt on that) with the unacceptable error of failing to proof their work before broadcast.
posted by Dreama at 11:12 AM on February 7, 2002


Every news station has a great collection of bloopers. I personally witnessed anchor Mona Scott of the NBC affiliate in Columbus, OH say "orgasm" instead of "organism," and once, Dave Kaylor, on the CBS affiliate on the same station, referred to the "May 8th primary fart" (he was talking about an election and was trying to say "primary fight" but apparently still had the preceding story about Gary Hart in his mind...).

The MSNBC gaffe is probably the worst mistake it is possible to make in broadcasting. Whoever did it can rest easy, knowing that he or she will never fuck up worse than that in the years to come.
posted by kindall at 11:29 AM on February 7, 2002


Who 'screwed up', Aaron, is irrelevant. My issue is with the editorialization in your post. The fact of the matter is that you still haven't answered my question: were you or were you not trying to make a statement of some sort when you wrote 'scary conservative [emphasis yours] African-American groups'?

If so, great. Let's talk about that. If not, well, maybe you should pause an extra second or two before you make a statement like that in a top level post.
posted by eamondaly at 11:33 AM on February 7, 2002


Reading Is Fundamental.
posted by owillis at 11:36 AM on February 7, 2002


He was baiting and you guys bit. Personally, I think there are some conservative blacks with very interesting and thoughtful views (Larry Elder) and then there are puppets (Clarance Thomas, who asks no questions and almost never writes opinions, just goes along with whatever Scalia says).
posted by McBain at 11:59 AM on February 7, 2002


Eamon, for the umpteenth time, Aaron was being sarcastic, by using language that he clearly doesn't believe in to make a jab at the characterisation that many have made of conservatives of colour. If I know Aaron's style, he was probably also trying to subtly insinuate that if Mr. Innis had been from a mainstream (read: liberal) African-American organisation, this may not have happened. I won't go that far, though the thought did occur.
posted by Dreama at 11:59 AM on February 7, 2002


Hey, baiting I believe. Sarcasm, I believe. But either way, poorly executed. More to the point: I'm the reader. I'm allowed to misinterpret. If I do, it's probably because the writer was lazy, not me.

Also, here's some excellent advice re: sarcasm.
posted by eamondaly at 12:28 PM on February 7, 2002


Is it possible the person checking actually thought the name was spelled that way?
posted by rich at 1:01 PM on February 7, 2002


If you want to indicate sarcasm/lying in written text, it is a growing practice to indicate that by surrounding the sarcastic text with tildes, like so:

"the Congress of Racial Equality, one of those ~scary~ conservative African-American groups."

Or:

"~Metafilter is the worst site in the world!! Only losers ever visit or post there!~"
posted by daveadams at 1:46 PM on February 7, 2002


I'm the reader. I'm allowed to misinterpret. If I do, it's probably because the writer was lazy, not me.

And what's your excuse for beating this horse? You've managed to kill a perfectly good thread.
posted by jpoulos at 1:51 PM on February 7, 2002


Well, certainly not laziness. And what's your definition of dead? This is a day old thread with over sixty comments.
posted by eamondaly at 2:17 PM on February 7, 2002


If you want to indicate sarcasm/lying in written text, it is a growing practice to indicate that by surrounding the sarcastic text with tildes

I use this convention on a daily basis.
posted by iceberg273 at 2:26 PM on February 7, 2002


Aaron said:
I'm not accusing anyone at MSNBC of intentionally allowing this blooper through, because - yes skallas, I think more than one person probably got in big trouble over this, if not actually fired; it's not the sort of "little joke" you let slip through if you have any desire for continued employment. I'm just dumbfounded by how nobody there managed to catch this.

Why? Our President gets to call the Pakistan government "p@k!$" with impunity. With either situation, intentionality is totally irrelevant. The person(s) behind the so-called "blooper" (we have no idea if it was a "typo" or malicious or whatever) need to at least be reprimanded for their unprofessionalism and irresponsibility. Their "mistake" could have the fallout of Innis losing public credibility, seeing what the supposed "mishap" revolved around one of the nastiest racial slurs, ever [betty boop]Oops![/betty boop]. Race/color aside, intentionality aside. You're right - they fucked up on a world-wide scale. That quite often means someone's job.

Also, a correction: CORE is not a conservative org, nor is it all that scary. It is a historically "civil-rights"/desegregation-oriented group, who are still quite proud of their more radical history. They've just been headed by tidy-righties in the past couple decades, that's all.
posted by Carmen Jonze at 2:16 AM on February 8, 2002


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