Reuters has raised quite a few eyebrows, invoking a storm of online mockery after it posted an ambiguous tweet about Mike Pence’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, prompting some to fear for the VP’s health.
Punctuation is important, especially in the middle of a global health crisis, and Reuters has learned this the hard way after it got pillared by netizens for leaving too much room for interpretation in a recent tweet about the coronavirus situation in the US.
“Just one American with coronavirus still in hospital: Vice President Pence,” the agency reported early on Saturday in an attempt to convey the words of Pence, who was put in charge of coronavirus mitigation efforts by US President Donald Trump.
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However, while Pence’s statement was supposed to reassure Americans, informing them that out of dozens of confirmed cases in the US, only one person remains in hospital, the message was entirely lost on many readers due to an oddly placed colon.
A torrent of online ridicule quickly flooded the tweet’s comment section, with many calling on Reuters to revise its headline, and others saying they would keep the tweet for posterity as an example of how not to use punctuation marks.
“I’m keeping this tweet to stress to my students the importance of using punctuation appropriately,” one user tweeted.
I’m keeping this tweet to stress to my students the importance of using punctuation appropriately.
— Gail Helt (@ghelt) February 29, 2020
“YES. I was definitely confused,” another chimed in.
This headline makes it seem like mike pence has the virus you rank amateurs.
— Michael Silverman 🥩 (@michaelplzno) February 29, 2020
Some even rushed to mourn the death of journalism as a whole (whether it was premature or belated is up for debate).
— Jen Stroup (@JenStroup) February 29, 2020
Others seemed to be genuinely (or perhaps not so genuinely) concerned about Pence’s well-being.
Oh no! Thoughts and prayers Mr Vice President!
— SETH WEATHERS (@sethweathers) February 29, 2020
Amid the backlash, Reuters later deleted the tweet, issuing a correction and changing the post “for clarity.”
“Just one American with coronavirus still in the hospital, says Vice President Pence,” the amended tweet now reads.
CORRECTION: Just one American with coronavirus still in the hospital, says Vice President Pence. We have deleted a previous tweet for clarity
— Reuters (@Reuters) February 29, 2020
Brevity may not be the sister of talent, after all, it seems.
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