Four Worst Campus Newspaper Typos in 2010-2011

The Crimson White, the student newspaper at the University of Alabama, is red-faced after misspelling the name of UA’s hometown in a recent front-page headline.  The bolded header in the lead story inverts the L and the A in the historic Southern city Tuscaloosa, creating the even more wackily-named Tusclaoosa.

The tsk-tsk top-of-the-fold typo is among the most cringe-inducing accidental slips in the college mediasphere this academic year.  The three other biggies involve sexual assault, a sorority ‘ho’, and one very bad motherf*cker.

The Bad Motherf*cker Byline

In early March, the byline for a staffer at The Western Courier, the student newspaper at Western Illinois University, went viral for its vulgarity.  On a back-page story, instead of being described as the newspaper’s assistant sports editor, WIU student Mick Vaught was referred to as a bad motherf*cker.  According to the Courier editor in chief, the profane descriptor had apparently been a playful part of the Courier‘s pre-publication template for years.

In an apology to readers, the editors wrote, “The stressful atmosphere of the newsroom often times [sic] leads to using ‘jokey’ or foul bylines in the table-reading portion of the editing process.  Even so, this is unacceptable and amateurish. Further, such a mistake creates the undeserved image that the Courier staff is sloppy and unprofessional.  But as the staff of an award-winning newspaper, we know the value of making mistakes such as this, and we have learned from it.”

The Sexual Assault Consent Switch

In January, a sidebar run with a front-page story package on sexual assault in The Iowa State Daily mistakenly stated that as long as they give their consent it is OK to have sex with individuals who are unconscious, asleep, mentally or physically handicapped, drugged out, crazy drunk or under 16.

The sidebar listing those categories of people was supposed to sport the headline, “Who Cannot Give Consent?”  Unfortunately, in print, the NOT was not there. Instead, the bolded hed asked, “Who Can Give Consent?”  The apparently innocent mistake of #epicfail proportions stirred cringes, criticism, and sarcasm across Iowa State University’s campus and the web, including Twitter and The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s “Tweed” blog.  The “Tweed” post specifically called the error “a doozy” and, mockingly, one of the “Great Moments in Student Journalism.”

The Sorority ‘Ho’

In August 2010, The Independent Florida Alligator slipped, creating what the newspaper’s editorial board called a “front-page nightmare of a typo.”  In the eighth paragraph of an issue’s lead story, a reference to members of a University of Florida sorority was accidentally singular– and sexual.

A description of students’ outfits on the annual UF sorority bid day: “The Delta Gamma girls wore sailor caps, and the Alpha Epsilon Phi ho wore similar green and white ones.”  Spot the slip?

In an apology to readers, the Alligator board swore there was no malicious intent, instead blaming the mistake on “technical difficulties.”  As the open letter, headlined “Foot in Mouth,” explained, “Sometime between the end of the summer and the beginning of the fall semester, our computers decided to make our lives a living hell by freezing every time we try to do anything. When we’re typing and the computers freeze, sometimes it takes so long to unfreeze that we completely forget what we were trying to do when it froze.”  The editors’ apology concludes with the line: “And come on, admit it- you laughed.”

In a related visual (below), the Alligator‘s editorial cartoonist Cynthia Despres captured the larger reality of how top editors at student newspapers often come across the errors of their ways.

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  7. […] brewing in Alabama between student newspapers at the state’s two most prominent schools.  In a post last week, I featured a rare front page typo in The Crimson White, the top-notch student newspaper at the […]

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