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Archive for April 24th, 2006

So you got the names right. So what?

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It speaks ill of the state of journalism when two CNN staffers congratulate themselves for just doing the most basic requirement of reporting — getting the names right.

This morning, on CNN’s American Morning, co-anchor Soledad O’Brien and business reporter Andy Serwer literally high-fived each other on camera for managing to pronounce the names of the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (mah-MOOD ah-mah-dih-nee-ZHAHD), and the oil minister of Nigeria, Edmund Maduabebe Daukoru. (I could not find a pronunciation of Daukoru’s name, so I can only assume that they indeed got it right.)

In the Web versions of the story on, none contained phonetic pronunciation of the names. It used to be a given that journalists would include phonetics of difficult-to-pronounce names in their stories, either in print or online. That important reader service has faded into history, it appears.

For my students, who receive failing grades for getting names wrong, CNN’s example of basic journalism offers little instruction of what competence truly means.

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

April 24, 2006 at 10:50 am

Posted in Uncategorized