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TV networks’ graphics departments have long been out of control with
their intrusive cluelessness.
After 9/11, many cable channels initiated a constant “crawl” of
news at the bottom of the screen. The spellbinding stream of words, slow
and endless, is perversely distracting.
But if you run a news channel, shouldn’t credibility be a
front-burner concern? Shaky language skills for all to see raise serious
questions about your standards and practices. Are you stupid, or do you
just think we are? Who put manic ignoramuses in charge of your graphics
The examples that follow all happened in recent months:
• An ABC affiliate, thinking mischievous has four syllables,
spelled it “mischievious.” Another ABC graphic said,
“Wake Forrest,” then proved it was no fluke with
“Angeles National Forrest.”
• An NBC affiliate came up with “To good to be true.”
We’re still taught about to, too, and two,
aren’t we? Maybe it was Bring Your First-Grader to Work Day.
• PBS is “TV for smart people,” but misspelling your
guests’ names isn’t smart. The network fecklessly spelled
veteran comic actor Dan Aykroyd’s name “Ackroyd.”
• Fox News Channel, not to be outdone, displayed “Kyber
Pass” for hours. This strategic mountain pass, a key supply route for
U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, is spelled “Khyber.” Look,
you don’t guess at stuff like this. You have to look it up.
Fox also fell into a common trap with “wrecking
havoc”—the proper phrase is wreaking havoc. And Fox
embarrassed itself with “embarassed.” In “alledged
embassy bomber,” it earned an F by adding a second d to alleged. A superfluous i in “How has the president
faired?” meant fare thee well, credibility.
• CNN joined the party with “theif” and “Iranian
peoples’ belief.” Put that apostrophe where it belongs, would
you? And CNN might have won the knucklehead sweepstakes with this bizarre
bulletin: “Houses OKs climate change.” Where do you begin with
that one? It’s an inspired fusion of horrid grammar and utter
Why do TV networks, some of them scrutinized around the world, undermine
themselves with sloppy grammar, spelling, and punctuation? What unholy mix
of arrogance, recklessness, and cynicism is at work when words onscreen,
the touchstone of a TV network’s fundamental competence, are put in
the care of buffoons?
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Speaking of meaninglessness. . .
Learn all about who and whom, affect and effect, subjects and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and much more by just sitting back and enjoying these easy-to-follow lessons. Tell your colleagues (and boss), children, teachers, and friends. Click here to watch.