By Kylie Rush
Within politics, journalists are the gatekeepers. We are there to make sure that everything a politician or presidential candidate says gets out to the public so they can make an informed decision later in the election. But to what extent does the reporting go?
President Barack Obama spoke to the Congressional Black Caucus this past Saturday and now the Associated Press is being targeted as racist. Watching the speech, it’s obvious that Obama is using a different tone than he would whilst giving a national address, but is it right or is it wrong to show that in print.
Politico felt that it should be printed without the inference of dialect. Politico’s transcript ran as follows:
“You have to stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying. We are going to press on. We have work to do.”
The Associated Press, however, ran it a little differently:
“Stop complainin’. Stop grumblin’. Stop cryin’. We are going to press on. We have work to do.”
Which is correct? As journalists, is it our duty to make sure the public has the correct dialect from a speech? Or do we, like African-American author Karen Hunter said, “fix people’s grammar, because you don’t want them to sound ignorant”?
In my personal opinion, I feel that it’s okay to show dialect in this instance. Through reviewing the speech twice, I have come to the conclusion that it was a purposeful dialect that Obama was using in his speech. I tend to side more with John McWhorter, a noted linguist, who stated that he believes that the lack of Gs was intentional. He felt that the fact that he can switch back and forth between the two dialects is part of the reason he got elected in 2008 and believes it is a good idea to do the same again this election. His intentional use of dialect leads me to believe that AP was not wrong in its transcription.