Radio Review: Mix 106.3 Big Storm in Canberra

ABC’s English Language Standards

February 26th, 2007 at 09:16am

I can’t help but get the feeling that the ABC’s title as the master of pronunciation and usage of the English language in Australia is a mere memory. It has been quite obvious over the last couple of years that their pronunciation standards have been slipping to the point where, whilst still perfectly legible, they have no bragging rights over other stations and networks.

Pronunciation is one thing, and we are all human so mistakes should be expected unless you have experts clamouring over every tiny detail, but spelling is another, and last night I was quite dismayed to see ABC Television’s Canberra news use the supposed word “arguement” on a super (aka the story headline graphic thingy next to the newsreader). I’m sure they meant “argument”, and to their credit they pulled it from the screen once the error was noticed, but the mere fact that no form of spell checking system is in use in the ABC newsroom is a worry. If “arguement” happened to be a real, but wrong, word, then I wouldn’t be making any fuss over this, but the fact that it does not appear in any dictionary has me very concerned.

One can only hope that the ABC does not continue to slip, or before we know it they might be fund-raising with a “Quizmania” type of show in place of their current “repeat the night time programs during the day” hour…and that would be a very big shame. I wouldn’t have a problem with a privately funded ABC, but there would be much better ways of fund-raising than loopy 1900 number game shows.


Entry Filed under: Samuel's Editorials,TV/Radio/Media

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  • 1. Bearded Clam  |  February 26th, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    I heard Simon “Hotdogs” Deering in is negotiaion with Aunty for a quiz show.

  • 2. Hamesucken  |  February 26th, 2007 at 10:50 pm

    Regarding English language standards and spelling errors, I recently noticed the mispelling of the word saxophone as saxaphone. I can’t remember where I saw it unfortunately.
    Certainly it is only a small error, but I believe that you are right in pointing out that it only requires complacency to allow the language to become corrupt.
    Or, as Edmund Burke said “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”.
    I am not a big fan of “spellcheckers” but I do appreciate at least an attempt at correct spelling and grammar.
    Well spotted Samuel!

  • 3. Samuel  |  February 27th, 2007 at 12:40 am

    Well spell checkers shouldn’t be relied on as they will accept incorrect words, but they can be helpful at times.

    Also, I am prone to spelling errors myself, sometimes I don’t notice and they “slip through the net”.

  • 4. Lucica  |  February 28th, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    I used to work in the Sydney ABC newsroom. The ticker (the scrolling words on the bottom of the screen) at the ABC is typed into a special program that is tied into all the other systems. It’s not typed in MS Word or any similar program, and is often done in a hurry, as you can imagine that a news show is a very time-sensitive environment.

    Also, almost invariably the person typing info into the ticker is a teenage runner (bottom of the food chain) – not the CEO – so, while spelling mistakes look stupid, it’s not the end of the world.

    p.s. Spelling isn’t the same as pronunciation.

  • 5. Samuel  |  February 28th, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    I was talking about the static text in the red-orange background seen towards the bottom left of screen as the newsreader introduces the story, not the ticker sometimes seen right at the bottom of the screen. However if it is also written by a “teenage runner” then I can understand the error.

    As I said “to their credit they pulled it from the screen once the error was noticed”.

    You are right that spelling and pronunciation are two different things, but they are closely related.

  • 6. Lucica  |  March 1st, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    Oops – I obviously skimmed your article, and didn’t see you mention the super. But the super in my experience was the writing that is put up (usually with someone’s name and organisation) during a piece. The graphic in the background – I don’t know it’s name, I think they just call it the graphic!

  • 7. Samuel  |  March 1st, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    No probs. The way ABC News is doing things these days is that they use the TV behind the newsreader for graphics at times, and a super very similar to the name/organisation one to introduce other stories.

    For an example, take a look at the ABC’s storm coverage in the second video on this page. The first story is introduced with a graphic on the screen behind Virginia Haussegger, the second story starts straight after the first, and the third is introduced by Virginia with one of those introductory supers.


February 2007

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