Reading aloud

Published February 20, 2009

The latest controversy at the BBC comes from a leaked email from the editor telling his staff to avoid using the phrase “as seen on screen” and instead to read out telephone numbers, email addresses and URLs.

A couple of newspapers picked up on the story and claimed this was insulting and unnecessary. The Editors blog explained the situation.

Commentators, and one reported “BBC insider”, have said: “This is political correctness gone mad.” It is not. This issue is not about avoiding causing offence. It’s about information and how to access it.

To me, there doesn’t seem to be an issue in reading out phone numbers or emails, but a few of the arguments regarding URLs do make sense. The previous link to the Editors blog looks like this:

The chances are, this won’t be read out on the TV anywhere, but is a good example of how URLs aren’t exactly snappy and don’t always roll off the tongue. There’s also the issue of having to spell them out, as something like Flickr may be heard as Flicker.

Is this yet another example where new and old media don’t mix?

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