The Benefit of Experience

Big businesses seem to like to lay off older, experienced employees in favor of younger, less expensive replacements. Sometimes, that really backfires.

But there's really something to be said about experience: those with a few years under their belts are a lot less likely to make a stupid mistake, such as confusing two different famous older people.

Former astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon in 1969, died yesterday (25 August 2012).

Here is how the consummate professionals at NBC News headlined the story on their web site:

Actual NBC web site headline

Astronaut Neil Young, first man to walk on moon, dies at age 82

Neil Young is the Canadian singer who is known for (among other songs) "Harvest Moon" (and the 1992 album of the same name). He's not the same guy with a totally different family name that walked on the moon.

But hey: nice try, guys.

Hardly the Only Error

But NBC isn't the only one that got it wrong (they say the bad headline was up for only 7 minutes. Let's call it the "Seven Minutes of Terror"). Here's the top of the front page of the Texas El Paso Times this morning:

See the gaffe? Let's take a closer look:

Doesn't look much like Armstrong, does it? That's because it's not. (And what's with the halo?!) Somehow they clipped the wrong person from this photo, which I think is probably from the 40th anniversary of the landing:

That's Buzz Aldrin on the left, Michael Collins, the command module pilot who didn't land on the moon in the middle, and Armstrong on the right.

It's not just in the U.S., either:

It's a little unclear where New Delhi's Hindustan Times got the idea that Armstrong was famous for being a pioneer in action.

And one last bit: There's this iconic image, in this example from the Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star:

The problem? The Associated Press sent "the footprint" photo out upside down, and most editors didn't catch it, even though it looks really odd this way. Here's what it's supposed to look like:

This is the photo right-side up. Something else: this is not Armstrong's bootprint, nor is it the "first" footprint, as many publications have either implied or flatly stated. It was taken by Buzz Aldrin about 40 minutes after he got out to the surface, and it's his own print.

Posted August 26, 2012

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