Is it Dillenberg or Dillenburg?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How many times has your first or last name been misspelled? I can remember this being a problem all the way back to elementary school. My teacher would constantly spell my name “Dillenberg” instead of my actual name “Dillenburg.” Eventually, my awkward fifth grade self decided to call my teacher out and inform her that she is spelling my name wrong. Did this have any impact? Yes, for only the next couple of days. After the weekend went by and Monday came, it was back to “Dillenberg.”

Unfortunately, misspelled names are a common problem within the journalism world.
Craig Silverman, the author of Regret the Error, claims that academic research shows that misspelled names are the sixth most common newspaper error. That is quite absurd and not a good way to attract your viewers.

Misquotes is the number one mistake which is then followed by incorrect headlines, numerical errors, general misspellings and incorrect job titles. Look on the bright side though my fellow BNR peers, we have our soon to be best friend textbook called the
Associated Press Stylebook 2010. Therefore, none of these mistakes should occur!

Misspelling names is a common mistake because it is easy to verify, yet journalists are not bothered to confirm the source’s title. Maybe this is because the interviewer is embarrassed of having to ask the source? Regardless, get over it because you will end up being more embarrassed in the long run when your article is published and you misspelled the name wrong in front of everyone.

Misspelling may be an issue because of two reasons. The first is that journalists have the tendency to assume that the source’s name is spelled the “common” way. The second is that journalists are lazy and spell the name based off of other sources that are incorrect.

A good example of a big source that would seem reliable yet is well known for these types of errors is the
New York Times. There has even been an article written by one of the NYT editors with the title "So Many Names, So Many Titles."

In order to eliminate this problem, it is strongly encouraged to ask your source for the correct spelling of their name. If you are still worried about this silly yet easy-to-do mistake, read what you have written down back to them. This may seem repetitive and annoying, but in the long run the source will greatly appreciate it.

Another important fact to remember is that you must be consistent with the name spelling throughout your article. I was guilty of doing this today, but fortunately caught my mistake before handing my paper in. I spelled the name “Oroonoko” two different ways throughout my paper: Oroonoko and Oroonoco. Yikes! Double check your work.

If none of this information has helped you, I strongly encourage you to think back to a time where your first or last name was misspelled. How did you feel about this? Were you slightly annoyed? If so, take pride in what you do and make sure you spell people’s names right so they do not get annoyed like you did.

Photo Credit: Simone Trum,


T Israel January 26, 2011 at 1:30 PM  

This is a great story. As you can imagine, Tierney Israel gets misspelled a lot. Those are some great tips for journalists who want to get the story right.

Post a Comment

  © Blogger template On The Road by 2009

Back to TOP