A MinD in MoTown

May 27, 2009, 10:58 am
Filed under: News Girl, The Woes of Work

I have decided my biggest journalism pet peeve is when people s-p-e-l-l words for me (other than their last name) without me requesting them to do so. And truly, I’ve recently become so frustrated by this, I felt the need to share my irritation.

The act is not only annoying and somewhat condescending – after all, I likely wouldn’t be in this business if I didn’t know how to adequately spell – but it’s distracting.

In taking notes, journalists are typically a few words behind, hurriedly writing whatever the individual just said. But when that person breaks out his or her spelling skills, I’m often so caught off guard by it that the words I was scribbling onto the page are simply lost into thin air. And clearly if he or she considers me stupid enough to require the spelling of a particular word – again, with me asking that person to do so – I’m not going to ask for the repetition of whatever was just said. Thus, I simply miss out.

I’m unsure of why exactly this bugs me so seriously – perhaps a combination of my intelligence seemingly being questioned and my annoyance at the distraction itself – but it does, and I wish I could convey that to every individual who f-e-e-l-s the need to s-p-e-l-l into my ear.

17 Comments so far
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I hate spelling things out to people.

we would get along just fine.

Seems so.

Comment by Matt

That’s offensive if you;re a journalist, naturally. They should know better!

Agreed! I wish they did know better!

Comment by andhari

I’d ask ’em to spell it one more time – each time they felt the need to spell something out. Or you could just ask them to sign the language to clean up any confusion in your abilities to spell.

I do know the sign language alphabet. I may consider that option.

Comment by [F]oxymoron

the worst is when people say: “H as in House”

um….when did the letter “H” ever sound like any other letter in the alphabet that would require you to do that?

So true. And I’m sorry, but is there a specific alphabet for when people do that? They always have the same words for letters: “D as in dog” or “C as in cat.” If so, it’s an alphabet I’m unaware of because I’d probably screw up and say something like “D as in dick.” That’d be ALL wrong.

Comment by thatShortChick

Military alphabet
A alpha
B beta
C Charlie…
… And so on

I don’t think that’s what they’re all actually going by.

Comment by Jonathan

B is bravo … Love my auto-spell check on iPhone that puts in words that it wants to.
Police commonly use this as well.
D is delta, not dick (pervert)

I was obviously joking about “dick.” Duh. And I don’t think people are using the military alphabet, cause they definitely say “dog” for D.

Comment by Jonathan

I just spell everything wrong anyways.

Its easier this way

You’d make a fabulous journalist.

Comment by rs27

Out of curiosity, do you know formal short hand?

I do not. I have my own short hand, I suppose. I use common things like b/c (because), w/ and w/o (with, without), ppl (people), @ (at), 4 (for). But otherwise, it’s all mine. Mo for Mooresville, I draw a heart for a woman with that last name on the school board, 2gether, <3s for loves. I often just leave verbs out also.

Comment by phampants

When people spell things out I usually tune them out, unless it’s really important. So all they’re doing is frustrating me. Alas.

I ought to tune them out, but it’s so very distracting because I’m not typically expecting them to spell a word unless it’s their name.

Comment by jtemplon

Maybe they just assume that you need help spelling because you’re b-l-o-n-d. (Not that I believe that myself. I’m just saying. Plus, you do look a little loopy in that picture.)

And truly, I’m not really a jerk. I just play one on T.V.

People over the phone can’t tell I’m blond(ish) though, or young for that matter. And you’re on TV?

Comment by Gramps

Maybe you shouldn’t be so U-P-T-I-G-H-T.

KIDDING. I’d cut a bitch.


Well thanks for spelling out my problem, ha.

Comment by LiLu

Ick. That’s really aggravating, and it would throw me for a loop as well.

Since I’m a photographer, the only thing I really have to get is a person’s name, and I make everyone spell out first AND last so I don’t screw it up…

Names can definitely be tricky though. I regularly have people spell last names, especially.

Comment by E.P.

H-A-T-E. It’s one thing if we ask them to spell something for us. But I agree, it’s our job as writers to do the adequate research to make sure everything is spelled correctly. What do “they” think we *do* at our jobs, anyway? Screw around on the internet all day? Wait…

In other news, I spelled something out in my blog post for tomorrow. But I think that’s different? No? Well…

Isn’t one of the first things you’re taught in journalism is to double-check the spelling of words? I believe so, which means if I’m unsure I’m spelling something correctly, I’ll ask for it to be spelled or check it out myself. Why don’t people get that?

And spelling on your blog is no big. You aren’t rattling it off in my ear, after all.

Comment by hautepocket

On a similar vain I hate it when people think I can’t spell my own name* and correct it for me. True Spelling is not my strongest asset, having been taught to spell by sound – which unlike grammar and punctuation, has doggedly stayed with me through out my life.

*True it is not the usual way but it is on my birth certificate, which probably only proves that my parents could not spell either. sigh

People always misspell my last name. It’s very similar to a certain Russian space satellite, so they often spell it like that rather than how it should actually be spelled. So annoying!

Comment by BlackLOG

I’m not a “real” journalist, but I know your pain. I especially hate it when they want to look at your notes to see if you’ve spelled what they were trying to spell correctly. Grrr. I’ve wanted to smack many a person in the face w/ my notepad.

Try not to smack people though, ha. That would most certainly take down your credibility a few notches.

Comment by TOPolk

That’s definitely understandable. Anything other than names should not be spelled.

Unless requested, of course, since there are certainly some awkwardly spelled business names out there, ha.

Comment by Cee

That would be annoying…what kinds of words do they think you can’t spell?

It was someone spelling their street name that prompted this post, but people spell various words out all the time. I even had someone spell Mooresville once, and not only is it the town I live in, but the newspaper I work for has the town’s name in the title. Ridic.

Comment by Ronnica

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