This weekend, the movie #StraightOuttaCompton, the biopic that tells the story of seminal rap group N.W.A, broke box office records, earning $56.1 million.
Because police, a group that N.W.A. had a special affinity for, believed that Compton viewers would start a mini-version of the 1992 L.A. Riots, security was increased at local theaters. There were no incidents reported.
For the folks at CNN unfortunately, that appeared to be somewhat of a surprise…and gave us yet another example of why media diversity is important.
While this bit of Chyron Abuse was the most obvious, it wasn’t the only faux pas for TV news networks this weekend. Tech entrepreneur Justin Kan, a partner at the incubator Y Combinator and founder of Kiko, Socialcam, Exec, and co-founder of Twitch was the victim of a hate crime when someone painted racist graffiti on the garage door of his San Francisco home.
When a neighbor painted over the slur with the wrong color paint, and a local television station managed to spell his last name—a name consisting of only three letters–incorrectly, Kan joked on Facebook that he’d become the “victim of a hate crime, a help crime, and now a name crime.”
As journalists we have to make sure that factual errors like misspelled names and chyron fails that express surprise that people of color can go to a movie without a riot breaking out don’t find their way into our work. All of the hard work that we’ve done as journalists to gain credibility with readers and viewers can be wiped out.
It might be time for television stations to start rehiring some of the copy editors laid off by newspapers to double check the work.
It might also be time for news directors to remember what the word “assume” does to everyone involved…
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Denise Clay is the assistant editor for AllDigitocracy. She is a contributing editor and columnist to the Philadelphia Sunday Sun, and the Philadelphia Public Record. Her work has also appeared on XOJane, and Time.com.