Happy… Holocaust?! TV station uses Nazi graphic for Jewish holiday

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Chicago-based WGN-TV has apologized after accompanying a segment about Yom Kippur with a graphic showing the symbol that Jewish concentration camp inmates were forced to wear in Nazi Germany.

The stock photo used in WGN’s coverage of the Jewish holiday, broadcast on Tuesday, September 22, featured a yellow Star of David against a striped background of a camp uniform, inscribed with the German word “Jude” (Jew).

“We are extremely embarrassed and we deeply apologize to our viewers and to the Jewish community for this mistake,” general manager Greg Easterly and news director Jennifer Lyons said in a statement Wednesday. “Ignorance is not an excuse.”

“The artwork chosen to accompany the story came from a graphics image bank. Regrettably, we failed to recognize that the image was an offensive symbol,” Easterly and Lyons said. “Please know we have reviewed our in-house policies and made changes to do everything we can to avoid such mistakes happening in the future.”

Marc Karlinsky, editor at the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, spotted the offending image and alerted the station via Twitter. Though the station quickly apologized, a number of media outlets around the country had already picked up on the scandal by Wednesday.

“To [WGN’s] credit, the on-air apology was quick,” Karlinsky tweeted shortly afterward. “Let this be a good lesson to all us editors/producers who pick photos on tight deadlines.”

The explanation that they “inadvertently” used the concentration camp stock art prompted some to wonder what sort of education WGN’s graphic artists and editors had received.

Yom Kippur is the “Sabbath of Sabbaths,” the holiest day of the year in Judaism. It falls ten days after Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, marking the end of the Days of Awe, also known as the High Holy Days. The name of the holiday means “Day of Atonement,” as the faithful seek to repent for their transgressions over the prior year through a 25-hour period of strict fasting and prayer.