Sneer quotes again

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I see that despite a hint of a concilatory tone in the Whirled's Thursday editorial, the paper still hasn't run out of ways to show contempt for those they dislike. In Pamela Jean "P. J." Lassek's Sunday "story" on potential candidates for City Council and Mayor in 2006, she refers to 2004 District 4 Republican nominee Eric Gomez as Jason "Eric" Gomez.

As I pointed out over a year ago, Eric is the man's legal middle name, which he prefers to his first name. He was on the ballot as Eric Gomez and uses Eric Gomez in his real estate business. I've known Eric since 1999, and I never knew Eric wasn't his first name until the Whirled started printing his first name and putting sneer quotes around his middle name. There is no legitimate reason for the Whirled to do this. What's implied by the use of sneer quotes (also known as scare quotes) is that Gomez either is an eccentric (like Virginia "Blue Jeans" Jenner) or is trying to be deceptive in going by his middle name.

As a blogger, I'm allowed to be snarky and to mix opinion with news content, but mainstream media types are supposed to be objective and dispassionate observers. At a time when the Whirled has already taken some huge credibility and objectivity hits over Great Plains Airlines, the 71st and Harvard F&M Bank rezoning, and the recall, this petty but obvious example of bias doesn't help them.

UPDATE: I was informed that Ms. Lassek did not write the part of the article about the District 4 race, but it was written by fellow City Hall reporter Brian Barber. (I don't know what Brian's full legal name is, so I don't know if I should be putting sneer quotes around any of it.) As a resident of District 4, Ms. Lassek doesn't write on District 4 politics as a matter of the newspaper's policy. Perhaps the decision to so style Mr. Gomez was made by city editor Lewis "Wayne" Greene. I was also informed that the reason to use Gomez's full name is because he has a couple of misdemeanors on his record, which you can only find in OSCN if you search on his full name. I guess they want to make sure readers can look those up. That still doesn't explain the use of the sneer quotes around his middle name.

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6 Comments

W. said:

I always thought that was standard op in news stories that I've read, that if a person is using a first name that isn't his actual first name, you put it in quotes.

The same thing has happened in feature news stories about my drafthorse-raising father, who uses his middle name primarily as his first name. He didn't see the quotes in his name as a big deal, since it was accurate.

Scout said:

Michael:
I just found your blog the 13th, one day after the great defeat! I posted a comment, but for some reason, it didn't make it, so I'll try again. I work with several people who really like listening to you, and who congratulated me for finally seeing your blog.
Anyway, just wanted to tell you that I'm enjoying this.
About 'the whirled's' bias,...I couldn't agree more!! When will we say:"Enough!" and throw our money, support, and readership to a paper that IS FAIR AND BALANCED? I'm there and I'm ready for something else!
BTW, did anyone else see the article about Tulsans being more negative about the economy and our economic progress being SLOWER than the national average? It was in yesterday's 'whirled'.
My point is this: What have all of these great business people who were involved with the recall effort, AND/OR who are involved with the Chamber of Commerce done to help this city? I want a full accounting of what these great leaders, beginning with our mayor, have done for Tulsa lately! Seems to me that they are out for their selfish interests alone. They've done nothing to help this city. Perhaps I'm being too hard on the chamber, but when someone like Bob Poe has represented you, I'm not real impressed! --This said from a lifelong Tulsan.

Mike said:

Michael, that irritates the heck out of me, also. That's the way news organizations typically refer to criminals. There is a clear agenda there, no question.

I still feel guilty that I didn't do just a little bit more for Eric in 2004, since he only lost by a handful of votes. If he runs again, I pledge here and now to work hard to get him elected, and the condescending Councilor Baker replaced.

John said:

Why not call the Mayor: William "Bill" LaFortune?

W., if you'll follow that link back to the original entry, you'll see that the Whirled isn't consistent in applying that rule. (John's example is apt.) In fact, I can't find an example other than Eric Gomez. If someone with access to the Whirled's stylebook can provide a quote that requires this, I'll be glad to post it here.

Scout, sorry about the lost comment, but I've had to delete tons of comment spam, and yours may have been swept up with the trash.

Remember, one and all, if you register with TypeKey, your comments go up immediately, otherwise, they'll wait until I get around to approving them.

W. said:

The LaFortune and Gomez comparison isn't valid. William and Bill are essentially the same name, but shortened. Everyone knows that Bill is short for William. Like Fred and Frederick, and Bob, Bobby, Robbie for Robert. Jason and Eric are not rooted from the same name. Eric is not short for Jason.

Jason "Eric" Gomez is accurate.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 17, 2005 11:52 PM.

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