Last night's episode of Genealogy Roadshow was rather good, in my opinion, with one glaring exception. When commenting about the myth of "name changes" at Ellis Island, Josh Taylor made one statement claiming the exact opposite of what has been proven dozens of times. The moment I saw and heard that, I said to myself, "Josh, you know better than that." (I have known Josh casually for years and have great respect for his knowledge of genealogy techniques and historical facts.)
It seems I was right. Josh did, and always has, known better. Today, Josh clarified his comments in at least two places. He posted a short explanation at the end of my report of last night's episode. He stated, "Not having seen any of the footage from the Ellis Island segment until it aired,..." and "the nearly hour long filming and multiple takes into a short three-minute segment, these specific details were not clearly represented." In other words, he mis-spoke and realized it the moment he saw the final program on his local PBS station. You can read more at http://goo.gl/qmJDio.
Next, Josh posted a longer explanation on his own web site at http://www.djoshuataylor.com/2013/10/01/the-ellis-island-myth/ and gave a good explanation of the Ellis Island experience.
I'll add a comment or two.
I have a little bit of experience with television programs, both in front of the camera as well as "behind the scenes." I am aware of the long hours involved. Producing a one-hour television program typically involves two to four days of videotaping, along with hours of meetings, planning sessions, rehearsals, and whatever else needs to be done. Often the director asks you to shoot the same scene over and over. Along about the 15th or 20th retake of the same scene, especially late in the day, the participants often are fatigued and may accidentally say something wrong.
I well remember when I was involved in one such experience with a PBS program, years ago. Late in the day, after the normal dinner hour, I was "on stage" and, in the middle of a sentence, I mentioned a very strong profane word. I was oblivious to it until everyone around me stopped and stared at me with their mouths open. It was a word I never use in normal conversation but, for some reason, it slipped out without my realizing it. Therefore, I am sympathetic when Josh or anyone else on television makes a mistake.
We made a few more re-takes of my scene and my slip-up never appeared in the final version.
Obviously, I wasn't present at the recent videotaping of Genealogy Roadshow in Detroit. I don't know exactly what was said nor do I know the pressures of the moment. But I am not surprised that one of the leading genealogy experts made a mistake. I've made worse.
I would first blame the show's producers. They obviously don't know too much about genealogy and could let some erroneous info slip through. However, I would suggest they should have some sort of review process by participants and/or other experts to make sure everything is proper before releasing the episode for broadcast.
To everyone else else who noticed the slip, I suggest you read Josh's explanation, smile a bit, and then move on.