Major Ethics Alarm: American Journalism Is Crumbling Before Our Eyes [Signature Significance]

wapo

This from the Washington Post. Yes, to illustrate the upcoming Inauguration Day women’s protest in Washington, D.C., the paper’s graphics artists and editors used the symbol for male when they intended to use the symbol for female. You know, this:

female-symbolThis is one of the most prestigious newspapers in the nation. That this could happen is signature significance: such ignorance, carelessness, and incompetence indicts the process, the personnel, management, and the miserable education system that allows people this inept and illiterate have positions of power and influence. Such a mistake couldn’t occur in a properly run high school newspaper.

It would be hilarious, if it wasn’t so depressing.

19 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Professions

19 responses to “Major Ethics Alarm: American Journalism Is Crumbling Before Our Eyes [Signature Significance]

  1. Other Bill

    Oh come ON Jack. It’s hilarious.

  2. That seems like an odd image for the Post to print. Was it their graphic or was it submitted by an advertiser? If were the latter, I would cut them slack because they probably don’t have too much control over advertising graphics in their paper. If, however, it is a WaPost-generated graphic, then I agree that it is incompetence.

    jvb

  3. Since you filed this (among other things) under “Gender and Sex” I hope it’s a fair place to ask, since I really don’t know, and I suspect it’s a possibility in our oh-so-sensitive world. Have we reached the point yet where anyone has suggested that we need more than two gender symbols, if the apparent goal which we have taken upon us is truly to never offend anyone, in any way?

    • deery

      Since you filed this (among other things) under “Gender and Sex” I hope it’s a fair place to ask, since I really don’t know, and I suspect it’s a possibility in our oh-so-sensitive world. Have we reached the point yet where anyone has suggested that we need more than two gender symbols, if the apparent goal which we have taken upon us is truly to never offend anyone, in any way?

      I think Prince was way ahead of you on this one: https://www.wired.com/2016/04/designers-came-princes-love-symbol-one-night/

      • I really was just curious, so maybe I should read at least some mainstream news if I don’t want to appear quite so uninformed. Which just goes to show another of the downsides to not being able to trust the everyday Press. I truly have thrown out the baby with the bathwater in at least some instances. I do appreciate your help, and the help I’ve received from everyone else who have offered replies to this query of mine.

    • Has anyone suggested more than just the binary gender symbols? Oh yes. Deviant art is full of charts, both serious attempts and not. But I don’t think anyone has actually pushed to codify them, and I think that’s for a couple of reasons:

      First… You’d have to outline the genders and create symbols for them… And I can’t help but think that at somewhere around gender 32’s symbol (which would probably look like a Jesus Fish with a meth needle sticking out of it.) the author would have to shake his head at the absurdity.

      Second… You would have by defining the genders limited the numbers of them, and this would be by its nature exclusatory, and therefore a target of the outrage brigade (“How dare you say there are only 76 genders!” “Why isn’t MY gender on your list!?!”)

      Third…. Despite all the outrage. No one really cares.

      • “(“How dare you say there are only 76 genders!” “Why isn’t MY gender on your list!?!”)”

        I know right, why don’t homosexual men with cis-female minds, who self identify as heterosexual females trapped in a bisexual’s body get their own bathroom facilities and gender symbol?

        Our system is so oppressive.

      • Well, seems like as good a reason as any to see if my Deviant Art gallery has been getting any views lately.

    • “Have we reached the point yet where anyone has suggested that we need more than two gender symbols, if the apparent goal which we have taken upon us is truly to never offend anyone, in any way?”

      We had a similar discussion on the topic of gender specific pronouns.

      My conclusion was that if there needed to be any change in pronouns, would be to reduce the quantity, not increase. I also concluded, however, that I’d prefer keeping the same number than decreasing, on the grounds that pronouns ought to abstract just enough that a person can quickly recognize who the pronoun is referring to. And self-claimed pronouns are useless because no one knows what pronoun an individual person prefers before they begin speaking about them. Silliness.

      He and She work just fine because gender IS something that is quickly recognizable for the *vast majority* of the population.

      As for these gender signs…are they really used all that often to warrant creation of new ones?

      • I’m answering this where I received your reply, which is on my blog, so I have yet to read your full conclusion yet, but thanks for taking the time to answer, and though I’m already pretty much in total agreement with what you’ve said here, if I have any further comment or question after following your link, I’ll reach you with them from there. (Whew, that’s the kind of run-on sentence I was notorious for that used to drive my English-Lit Prof. absolutely crazy.) Thanks again.

  4. Wayne

    Well maybe the march is for males identifying as female or something.

  5. deery

    I’ll admit, I laughed when I saw the image. Then I over-thought it, and sought a deeper message behind it. Were they trying to say that even though it was a women-centered march, they were fighting the male patriarchy, and all of its symbols? No, my first impulse was right, it was just a dumb mistake by the forgotten, regurgitated stepchild of the Washington Post. https://www.buzzfeed.com/laurenstrapagiel/washington-post-express-women-cover?utm_term=.nf05p1rly#.jnPVjwKO6

    • I wondered the same thing. Occam’s Razor.

    • No, they were forming a planet Earth with a little house on it, symbolizing their belief that the most important role to fight for women was that of homemaker.

      • You owe me a keyboard, TexAg.

        Under the new rules, I now have to come up with something substantive, since I am posting. (gentle nudge to Jack)

        This reminds me of the problem we have had over the last decade hiring anyone who can write a coherent email. If they have not attended college, most of their communication resembles bad texting. Even college grads have not been taught (as I was, at Texas A&M) how to communicate professionally. I notice that most ‘4 year’ engineers, lawyers, and Business Management with Masters degree (but not bachelors) still get this skill as a part of their education and are the exception.

        We seem to have lost general standards of educated interaction as technology has progressed. And I wonder why

  6. Joe Fowler

    The standards at print publications have been slipping for some time, and not just the writing. The basic craft of putting them together seems to have declined. From spelling, grammar and syntax, to the actual physical layout of the publications. Photos clearly intended for another article are sometimes used, ads with expiration dates prior to their publication are printed, paragraphs are out of order, articles end in mid-sentence never to be concluded…
    I assume that all copy editors, layout and composition artists, proof readers, slot chiefs and photographers have been replaced by a college intern running the cheapest online version of Adobe, with Google as the primary fact and photo resource. I would guess that the business explanation for this is that all of the talent has been deployed to the online side of the various businesses. I don’t see much evidence of this.

    • zoebrain

      I’ve noticed the same thing. It’s happening online too.

      In this case, apparently there are no women on staff, but that shouldn’t matter in even a semi professional publication.

      Gresham’s law?

      • Joe Fowler

        Gresham’s Law (new debased currency driving out of circulation older better currency, i.e. precious metals, when both must be accepted at face value) is interesting to ponder about here. In the sense of the bad driving out the good, one could make a case that new, crappy journalistic standards (including related crafts) are based more on immediacy and clicks in the online world, whereas the old “dead tree” standards were generally higher, but are being driven out due to both having the same face value.
        I don’t think that the law is universal that way though. In recorded music, the new technology has certainly allowed anyone with an interest to record music, but all of the music that you actually hear, (radio, TV, movies) is recorded by pros simply using the new tools. The myth of the home produced hit is just that, a fun PR story. I would expect the new technology tools to result in better rather than worse results in the journalism crafts. Not sure what gives here.

  7. I retract what I wrote earlier. It was an in-house error. Here is a yahoo! news article. Apparently, the blunder was on the cover of the Washington Post Express free daily publication. They blew and reissued the daily with the correct symbol (or is cymbal?).

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/washington-post-magazine-embarrassed-over-using-male-symbol-for-its-womens-march-cover-story-195236787.html

    jvb

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