In the rush of daily news, mistakes are bound to slip through – however, you should always check and double-check that you spell and pronounce place names correctly.
The mistake in this commercial TV news bulletin last night was in the spelling of Beenleigh – not BeenEleigh. (I just glanced at the screen as I was walking out the door and noticed the mistake.) I reckon lots of other viewers would have noticed the mistake too.
In my experience, TV news audiences are more likely to excuse certain mistakes and typos – but are less forgiving when it comes to place names.
Mistakes in names may not even get noticed – but viewers will notice if you make a mistake in how you spell or pronounce a ‘local’ place name.
When I consult to newsrooms and in a 2016 stint working back in TV news as a deputy news director, I was very, very careful about place names. In a news bulletin there are lots of things to check – but ALWAYS check and double-check place names.
In newsrooms, many reporters come from different markets and are less familiar with local place names.
When a new reporter moved to our Brisbane newsroom from a different market (e.g. from Melbourne to Brisbane) I tried to make sure they ‘teamed up with’ and learned from someone else who had moved from that area – so they could ‘fast-tracked’ about names that were the greatest challenges.
Also, names with the same spelling are pronounced differently in different markets – for example, Berwick in Victoria.
For my first TV job, I moved from Brisbane to Sydney and I was lucky to have bosses who helped warn new reporters from different markets about how to spell and pronounce different names.
We all make mistakes.
My main advice is:
1. some mistakes are more obvious than others – place names
2. it IS possible to reduce mistakes by preparing reporters from different markets.
3. create a ‘problem place names’ resource that people add to and make sure ‘new’ people study it
4 create a newsroom culture where people are not afraid to ask and check how to pronounce/spell a name – usually you can easily find out how to spell a name.
I remember, being very impressed by a new reporter who moved to Brisbane and who would always check how to pronounce different place names. I was also impressed by one of his helpful fellow reporters who had great memory devices like – “Always pronounce the ALL in Algester”