By Hayden Wright
PALO ALTO (CBS SF/RADIO.COM) – WikiHow publishes handy how-to guides for just about everything, but it all went terribly wrong when the site published “How to Become a Congressman.” The tip titled “Schedule and attend fundraising events” featured an illustration of three Caucasian figures that looked very familiar to Beyoncé fans. That’s because it had been rendered from an image of President Obama, Beyoncé and Jay-Z chatting during a political event.
“When we saw the whitewashed image of Obama, Jay Z & Beyoncé, we were disgusted & ashamed,” tweeted the WikiHow account. “It never should have been on WikiHow. Within minutes of the 1st tweet, a volunteer removed the image. We then started investigating how it got on WikiHow at all.”
Palo Alto-based WikiHow then explained the editorial process that led to the mistake.
“We learned it was made 3 years ago by a team of illustrators who work as one. One person sketches, the other person colors. The sketcher sent the colorist a black and white sketch. The colorist did not know the race of the models. The colorist wasn’t aware it was Obama and Beyoncé. We don’t think the illustrator intentionally whitewashed here.”
Nevertheless, the organization offered a commitment to doing better in the future.
“This doesn’t excuse the fact that we hosted a terrible image on wikiHow and we needed more diversity on that article period. We’re talking with our illustrators to prevent recurrence and encourage diversity. Especially in positions of power.”
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