Friday, January 13, 2012
You mean there's a difference?
The journalists of the PBS Newshour can find one-armed gay yak herders in Tibet for long-winded features on the homoerotic qualities of thin air and missing limbs.
What they can't find is Mississippi on a map.
Thursday evening, during a story on the Haley Barbour pardon scandal in the Magnolia State, a full-screen infographic presented the eye-raising tale of the tape, while underneath the litany of statistics was a map of . . . Louisiana. I can't speak for Mississippians, but I think I can speak for those born and raised in the Bayou State.
They ain't happy.
The visual error probably came down to something as mundane as public television's image bank of state outlines stopping short of "M," thanks to the cheapskate ways of pledge-dodgers like yourself. I must confess, however, that my first jaded thoughts turned to East Coast parochialism and the perils of being stuck in "flyover country."
All those states where people talk funny and live in trailer parks are pretty much all the same, right? Am I right? Louisiana . . . Mississippi . . . it's all like In the Heat of the Night, right? Who'll notice?
The first thing I saw in my mind's eye (after I had made sure my eyes' eye had seen what I thought it saw) was that iconic cover of The New Yorker. This one:
I REALIZE the Newshour is produced at WETA in Washington, but the general thesis holds up. Both Louisiana and Mississippi are in front of the lump called Texas. Somewhere.
I think you can get there by exiting the Beltway -- someplace -- but it's harder if you get in the HOV lane.
As a native of one corner of flyover country and a resident of another, that -- like I said -- was my first aggrieved thought. I was probably being a little paranoid and conspiratorially minded.
I'm sure the error, which I'm sure the Newshour staff regrets, was due to something as simple as the nearsighted arts editor of the Economist, fresh in from London, sitting in for the WETA graphics guy, who had a few too many cups of chai and had to make a trip down the hall. Hell, it's not like I could find Stratford-Upon-Avon on a map of England.
Or . . . it might've just been that the JPEG clip-art folder only went up to the letter "L."
Thanks to viewers like you.