Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Heads are going to roll....

If you read the above caption underneath a picture of members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, you will see that it says "Twelve Apostates". Before anyone freaks out, let me assure you this was not on purpose. This caption appeared in the Daily Universe, which for those of you who don't know, is the BYU Newspaper.

A teacher quickly saw the mistake, at around 6:30-7 a.m. and they pulled all the papers. They put up signs that a mistake had been made, didn't disclose what it was, and the paper would be reissued, at the high price of $10,000! No wonder newspapers are going down the toliet!

We in the broadcasting department thought it was kind of funny. What I thought was a little ridiculous was the school reaction. Obviously, it was a HUGE mistake. But I heard from some sources a couple of things that were going down.

1.) They had a huge lecture, in more than one class, from their teachers about how big an issue this was! AND I heard that the teachers were MAD at the students. Wait a minute... isn't this a student published paper? Isn't this a CLASS? Isn't this about learning and making mistakes that we can learn from? Oh wait, I forgot this was BYU and we are all perfect. Wait....

2.) I also heard that the mistake was made because there is usually 3 or more channels that the paper goes through to get published, and for some reason, only the girl who wrote the caption saw it. She missed it (obviously) but no one else was there to see it or correct it. Her fault? Not entirely. Looks like a team mistake.

3.) A professor said that he was sure that the men in this photo (the 12 apostles) probably understood the mistake and felt bad for the girl. I am sure this is true. He then continued to say, "But I'm sure these men were hurt by that mis-caption". Uhh... I highly doubt that. I think these men, above all others, understand that people are HUMAN and that we all make mistakes. This is a very simple, albeit very taboo mistake. I even showed someone the caption and asked, "Anything wrong with that?" He read it out loud and said Apostles instead of Apostates. I told him he missed it. He was even looking for a mistake!

This teacher continued to say someone HAD to get fired for this mistake. I think that is ridiculous! If we are really BYU, our CHURCH sposored school, shouldn't we practive FORGIVNESS? Hello!!

I think that the 12 Apostles probably had a good chuckle over this. Even joked about it. All through yesturday when people were talking about it (yes, this is excitement at BYU), i thought of the Queen from Alice in Wonderland. When she gets her mallot stuck under her dress and flips over she screams, "Someone's head is going to roll for this!" That's all I kept hearing in my head. Yes, I know this proves that I am a crazy Disney freak as always.

So, my question is: Should someone's head roll for this? Should this student fail the class for a one simple mistake? I have my own opinion, what is yours?


Emily said...

Hurray for finding your blog! I'm never on campus at BYU anymore, so I don't hear exciting news like this. I REALLY appreciate what you wrote. I too am a Disney freak. The insane reactions to things are hilarious/scary/annoying. A professor really thought they were probably hurt by this? Seriously?! I can't imagine they would even care enough to know about it.

Pierce and Stacy said...

I think it's funny and I don't think the Church authorities really care all that much because yes, it is a student run newspaper. And anyone could make that honest mistake. Geez! haha.

The Copelands said...

Hahaha!! I heard about this! No, that poor girl should not fail the class because of that. Like you said, it was a TEAM mistake:) I think it is funny. And I think certain BYU faculty and students are funny for making such a big deal about it. Man, I love Provo! :) hope your back is feeling better!

Sarah and Wes said...

No way--I do NOT think it's that big a deal! Maybe if it was on purpose. And I'm sure the general authorities thought it was hilarious--they all have great senses of humor. Plus, it's not like a was a huge paper or anything--we are talking about the Daily Universe here. They always have weird stuff going on!

Vickie Blanchard said...

If her faculty supervisors let the paper go to press without more than one eyes on a caption, the fault is theirs. I have a fair amount of experience as an editor, and quite frankly, stuff like this happens all the time. Sure, it was an unfortunate switch of words, but if any writer, let alone a journalist thinks they are above this kind of error, they need to get real. The poor girl was probably exhausted when she typed the copy.

Kirsten "Fi" said...

Hey! We sat near each other last week in church ... I'm so glad you blogged about this.

I'm a reporter, too -- a multimedia reporter (broadcast, print and online), so I have a plethora -- a cornucopia, you might even say -- of thoughts on this. I'm so glad someone actually ASKED for our feelings on the subject, so I won't feel guilty for giving mine unsolicited ;)

I also hope you won't be offended if I disagree with you on a few points. I'm just ridiculously opinionated about journalism-related issues.

First off, I'm not a fan of the Daily Universe. Because it has prior review, I don't honestly feel it's a real student newspaper (I don't mean that to be insulting toward BYU -- but if DU can't report negatively on its own school, then what CAN it report on?) But this is one of those instances when I'm hopping mad that "prior review" didn't work the way it was supposed to. What's the point of prior review, if they can't catch mistakes like this?

Secondly, why were they relying on spell check instead of a real copy staff? Why do they even HAVE a copy staff, if that's what they were doing? At my school newspaper, The Post (in Athens, OH), I was a copy editor, and you better believe I would have been fired if I had done something like this. We had four shifts of copy staff that went through each publication before we sent it to the printer at 3 a.m. -- there was hot copy at 5pm, warm copy at 7, cold copy at 9, and advanced cold copy at 11. I was on the last one on Monday and Tuesday nights -- the graveyard shift that ended at 2 a.m. -- and I was usually the eighteenth pair of eyes to look at that issue. We weren't run by the school, of course; we were independent and we ran an array of negative articles on the school (and won multiple AP awards every year for it, lest you think were just a mob of useless rabber-rousers)! But still. If there are students at this newspaper, they NEED to learn there are repercussions for their mistakes. Because that's accountability, and it's important to learn that before you go out into the field where you're going to get SUED for your mistakes.

Thirdly, I'm not at all suggesting these students need to get fired. As a TV reporter for a PBS affiliate, I once mistakenly transposed a letter in a girl's last name: instead of typing in "Fagen" into the graphic lower, I typed "Hagen." I didn't get fired, but my assignment editor and managing editor REAMED me for it -- especially when they fed the story to another station, and another reporter caught the mistake. Not kidding. They ripped into me so hard, I cried.

But, I'm so grateful they did tear into me that hard. I was a student at the time ... I was learning, yes ... but I needed to know how dangerous my error was. What was the big deal, you ask? It was just one little letter! Used the lower only once in my package! But in the real world, you get fired -- or worse, slapped with a giant lawsuit -- and in this economy, that's the last thing a station or
newspaper needs.

So, no, they shouldn't be fired. But I hope someone made clear to them that they need to learn and learn fast that in the field journalism, innocent mistakes are disastrous for both our reputation for credibility and our responsibility. You'd be amazed at the statistics of polls that showed how much respect our audience loses for us journalists when we make even the TINIEST misspelling in our publications and mispronunciations in our broadcasts.

In that instance, it has less to do with BYU's need for perfection, and more for the importance of perfection in OUR profession. After all, the public already distrusts us for numerous reasons ... why feed even further into our ignominious reputation?

Anyway, those are my worthless opinions on the subject :)



Kirsten "Fi" said...

P.S. I meant to type "rabble-rousers" above, not "rabber-rousers" :) Yet more evidence why I should apply the same standards of editing to my blog posts as I do to my articles!

P.P.S. The DU's prior review failed again, yesterday -- they printed an editorial from another school with profanity in it. That ticks me off for two reasons:

A) I'm not a Molly Mormon, I'm not all fussy and prude about swearwords in newspapers -- but this is BYU. Doesn't prior review exist for that very reason ... to weed out that which is inappropriate for BYU material?

B) On an unrelated note, why don't they write their own editorials? Stop borrowing so much from other schools. Other student newspapers rarely borrow this much material from their counterparts. Our newspaper stopped doing it altogether last year -- even from the Associated Press.

Mmmkay, I'm done now!