Columns » Kenneth Cleaver

Consumer Correspondent

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Kenneth H. Cleaver

P.O. Box 810

Bedford, NY 10506

Mr. Jeffrey Dvorkin

Ombudsman

National Public Radio

635 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20001

Dear Mr. Dvorkin:

I can't help but notice that NPR correspondents routinely employ Spanish accents in their pronunciation of names and locations.

I do not find this practice the least bit objectionable. As a rhythmic device, it thwarts my expectations and demands a renewed interest in the story. What I can't understand is why it is not applied across the board. When a U.S. dignitary visits Tashkent or Nairobi, why do correspondents not follow suit with the appropriate accent? From Dar Es Salaam to Bangor, Maine, accented coverage would make for a more visceral and informative radio experience.

When doing a story in Massachusetts, reporters should adopt the flat Haarvad Yaaad accent as well as colloquialisms like wicked awesome. This need not be some sort of quirky deviation from the hard news reporting, but an integral component of same.

Americans do not now, nor have they ever, spoken uniformly. We sound as much like Jimmy Durante as Tom Brokaw, as much Mike Tyson as Martha Stewart.

As much as some might fetish certain dialects -- I'm partial to western Long Island -- there is a broad section of voices to be heard and understood. National Public Radio should facilitate this in the broadest way possible.

Sincerely,

Kenneth H. Cleaver

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