Sunday, September 20, 2009

NPR’s Scott Simon Insults All Louisianans

I’m not sure why I’m semi-obsessed with obvious errors in what are otherwise very reliable media and other sources. It must be a librarian thing. Anyway, I’m rarely up at 6:00am on a Saturday, let alone listening to NPR, but in another episode of what is a typical, riveting middle-aged married life, I wanted to get to both Home Depot and Lowe’s soon after they opened.

So I was listening to Scott Simon on NPR wax poetic about Twitter. He had listeners read the “poetic”, “witty”, whatever Tweets that he had solicited from them. But in discussing political Tweets, Simon mis-spoke and referred to - I swear this is what he said - “Congressman Joe Wilson of Louisiana”. The President-heckling Congressman is, of course, from South Carolina, not Louisiana, and we’re so happy that a politician from somewhere ELSE was a national embarrassment for a while.

But when I went to capture the audio from NPR.Org, the error had been edited and he now mentions the correct state. But because this segment was about Twitter I had immediately got on-line and Tweeted my offense at his error, and, luckily, found one other Louisianan who also was not happy with Simon’s confusion about Southern States.

So except for Twitter there is no evidence that this error occurred. And because Twitter doesn't, as far as I know, archive all our Tweets in perpetuity, those two pieces of "evidence" won't be around forever. A minor point about a minor error, sure, but still. Its nice to know that NPR edits such errors out of its on-line archives. And I remain agnostic about Twitter being a revolutionary information/news resource and/or tool, but I’m regularly surprised at how it can be useful for random little things like this.

Oh, and Scott Simon’s whole segment was people reading their “clever” Tweets that he had asked them to submit. A few were cute, but one was about public libraries and was pretty clueless. The caller/Tweeter, Amanda Elend - @amandaelend - read her following Tweet:
Finding myself extremely thankful that the public library system already exists. Imagine trying to get that one past Congress.
Public libraries funding is, of course, mostly local, but the federal government does give a big chunk of change to help at almost every level. But there was no initial “Public Library Act” that had to “get past Congress” in some past halcyon day. In fact Congress still ponies up a big pile of money each year - $158 million for state library agencies in 2005 (out of a total $1.1 billion total revenue, so right at 15% comes from the federal government). I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised because I imagine a majority of the country can’t believe that any government program or function exists that doesn’t flow from the benevolence of the federal government.

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