The concept was good in theory: erect a billboard promoting the news team and include live Twitter updates to emphasize the station’s commitment to breaking news and emerging technology.
The unconventional station promotion from WPMI in Mobile, Ala. took an unexpected turn in November, though, when a driver noticed that the most recent tweet from WPMI made a disconcerting headline for the billboard. The station tweeted “3 Accused of Gang Rape in Monroeville” on November 18th which, on the billboard, ran alongside a photo of anchors Greg Peterson and Kym Thurman, and chief meteorologist Derek Beasley. The observant driver snapped a photo and e-mailed it to a reporter for The Palmetto Scoop who posted it online under the headline “Epic Billboard Fail.”
The image has made the rounds on blogosphere over the past weeks with the tech blog CNET noting “sometimes ingenuity doesn’t quite lead you to a comfortable place.”
There are reports, though, that the station is not taking the mix-up lightly. According to Lagniappe, a local Mobile newspaper, the station has suspended General Manager Shea Grandquest and News Director Wes Finley for the billboard snafu.