Monday, February 23, 2009

An Unfortunate Reminder

Sometimes humility comes at a high price.

Last week I produced some tribute videos for my boss who died on Friday and they ran on the local TV station that I work for. It was a stressful day and I was hit harder than expected by the loss of this man. I received many compliments for the pieces and that felt good but I tried to keep it in perspective.

This morning that perspective was jackhammered into me with an email from a viewer which my GM passed on to me:

"I have nothing against ______________, but I was appalled to see a serious misspelling on one of the photos honoring him. I don't know who wrote it, but it was shown on ______. You may have heard from some other educated people in Utah. There's a photo of Mr. ________ with the phrase underneath - "He loved Utah. It's land, it's people." Everyone should know that the possessive form of "it" is "its" not "it's." "It's" is a contraction for "it is." This was terribly hokey and Utah doesn't need any more bad publicity. I have seen so many horrendous misspellings on ALL local news channels too. Just thought you might like to know. Sincerely ____________, Park City, Utah."

This has been a big wake-up call. Reading this email makes me realize that I'm as big a jerk as she is because I've been tempted to send out the same email when I see the very same mistake. But I never before took into account what extenuating circumstances might exist. For instance, there is a difference between a typo and a stupidity-driven misspelling or punctuation error. I find myself typing an apostrophe all the time when I shouldn't. That's what rewriting is for. In this case, I don't need a lesson in punctuation (what she has chosen to refer to as spelling) as much as a proofreader. And then there's the stress and shock of losing someone you respect and trying to do right by them by putting a tribute to them on the air in a timely fashion.

So I can't be too hard on this woman. I have been just as much of an asshole as she is.