Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
The other morning, ESPN was reporting on the Chinese/NBA flap and used a map that shows nine dotted lines that encompass Taiwan and other territorial claims of the Communist Chinese that no other nation recognizes.
This caused a minor storm on Twitter, with people accusing The Worldwide Leader in Sports of kowtowing to the ChiComs, which carry ESPN networks on state-owned cable and internet, along with other Disney products. In a fit of stupidity, both Disney and ESPN have been stonewalling other media outlets for an explanation.
As in all situations of this kind, the choices are few. It’s either malice (or in this case, cowardice), stupidity, or incompetence. I’d put the odds of the former being 10% and the odds of one of the two latter reasons at an even 45-45%.
Like all television networks and stations, ESPN has streamlined and automated its productions significantly over the last ten years. What used to take an army of technicians to get on the air is now handled with the push of a couple of buttons from a producer or production assistant. To fill that monitor display, a template was called up on the newsroom automation system, the term “Map of China” was entered into a search bar and dozens of images from the AP Graphics Bank and/or Getty Images were displayed in thumbnail size. Someone probably didn’t read the caption on the picture and just said, “The yellow and black one looks nice” and just like that, without further review, it tumbled out into our living rooms.
In the old days, there would have been a photoshop artist or graphics operator who may have looked at that and said, “Eh, I don’t think that’s the graphic you want to use” or they would have taken it upon themselves to eliminate the dotted lines. But not now. This doing big-time television on the cheap, with young producers who know little about the world around them, is how 99% of all graphic errors happen these days. It’s all C&C – Cheap and Careless. It’s the world they created so they might as well own up to it and say, “Stuff happens. It was a mistake, and no, nobody got fired. But we pledge to be better next time.”