EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 11, 2013

N.H. residents react to state being erased from map

By John Toole
jtoole@eagletribune.com

---- — NBC has apologized for leaving New Hampshire off a map displayed on air this week.

Anchor Brian Williams delivered the apology during the Nightly News broadcast Wednesday.

“Mea culpa and full disclosure: New Hampshire was lost by our graphics department,” Williams said. “It has since been found and put back.”

NBC showed the map during a report on the Quebec train explosion.

Williams treated viewers to a replay during the apology.

“You’ll see what a few of our sharp-eyed viewers saw, including at least one U.S. senator: New Hampshire’s gone, vanished,” Williams said. “It apparently moved to Vermont and then New York took over a bunch of territory. Nobody knew it.”

Williams then paid tribute to “great things” about New Hampshire.

“It’s got the best motto, ‘Live Free or Die,’” Williams said. “And it is home of the first-in-the-nation primary.”

The state has an all-female elected Congressional delegation, too, he said.

“And while they are all serious people, New Hampshire has also given us Seth Myers and Sarah Silverman,” Williams said.

He went on to say paper towels were invented in New Hampshire and the inventor of Tupperware was from the state.

Gov. Maggie Hassan accepted the apology via her Twitter account.

“We forgive you ... this time. Don’t let it happen again @bwilliams!” Hassan tweeted.

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte thanked NBC via Twitter for the apology and for putting the spotlight on New Hampshire. She was the senator who contacted the network about the big mistake.

“She just pointed out the error,” spokesman Liz Johnson said.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen tweeted acceptance of the apology, too.

“We all make mistakes,” she said.

People on the streets of New Hampshire rolled eyes, shook heads, laughed and tsked-tsked over NBC’s error.

“My 10-year-old daughter, Alexa, she knows how to find New Hampshire,” George Calligandes of Londonderry said.

“It’s par for the course,” he said of the network’s mistake. “I’m from New York and when I moved here I think some of my friends thought New Hampshire was part of New York. I have to tell people I’m from Boston for them to know exactly where I’m from.”

Amanda Butler, a young mother from Londonderry shopping with toddlers, couldn’t believe the error.

“Oh, geez,” she responded when told. “Everybody makes mistakes.”

Butler pondered the consequences of a map without New Hampshire.

“I don’t think I’d be too happy living in Vermont,” Butler said.

Sister Juliann Parent of Derry, a retired schoolteacher, couldn’t believe it either.

“We’ve got 50 states and they can’t figure that out?” Parent said. “They need to get out more.”

Parent, recalling her former kindergarten students, said they would know where they live.

She had a theory as to the culprits.

“They’re probably interns,” she said.

The director of East Derry’s Taylor Library, Linda Merrill, had heard about the mistake.

“What the heck is going on?” Merrill asked. “Doesn’t anybody know their geography?”

Merrill was more than willing to open the library’s atlases and other reference resources to Williams and his crew whenever they want to come.

“That would put us on the map,” she said.

Principal George Murray of Salem’s Fisk Elementary said students learn about geography and U.S. history in the fourth grade.

“I didn’t know about this, but from what you say ,this sounds humorous,” Murray said.

At first, Murray wasn’t sure about teaching the NBC news team about geography, but ultimately played along.

“You mean have them come here? I suppose,” he said. “We have fourth-grade teachers.”

The apology pleased Granite Staters.

“Any positive spin that helps the state is always a good thing,” Calligandes said.

“Absolutely, he should do it,” Parent said of the apology from Williams.

The miscue brought national attention to the story.

Washington Post political reporter Chris Cillizza characterized Williams’s apology as “awesome.”

He recalled some of his favorite things from visits to New Hampshire, including the chicken tenders from the Puritan Backroom restaurant in Manchester.

Whether NBC takes advantage of the geography lesson offer remains to be seen. But Granite Staters can rest easy, knowing they are back on the map.