The latest attempt at terrorism by Nigerian nationalist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallabhas, is the straw that broke the camel’s back in the American newscaster business. In a rare show of agreement between the top media outlets, news commentators from every major prime time and cable news program, excluding PBS, has asked the FBI, CIA and other law enforcement and governmental spokespersons to create shorter nicknames for terrorists as soon as any new terrorist threat or action is leaked to the news.
“Not only are we finding it hard to pronounce the names when they come in, but because of the fact that most of our newsroom interns are unpaid students, they don’t have the international spelling skills necessary to get names like Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab correct,” said John Smith, newsroom associate producer at Fox News. “If the CIA could create a list of simpler names for news gatherers to follow at the outset of these terrorist acts, we could spend more time on gathering the facts instead of looking up the correct pronunciations of these foreigners’ names.”
Over at MSNBC, associate news producer Jimmy Doe agreed. “We have some of the best typists fresh out of high school writing our tickers at the bottom of every newscast and these kids just don’t have the chops to type that fast when faced with these long names that can’t be spelled phonetically. We’re actually seeing a rise in carpal tunnel syndrome-type injuries in kids as young as 17, 18 years old and our workers’ comp rates are through the roof every time we have another Al Qaida-type attack in our part of the world. I mean, even the word Al Qaida is tough for some when it’s been spelled Al-Qaeda, Alqaeda, al-Qaida, etc., said Doe. “I mean, come on, where’s the ‘u’ after the ‘Q’? When is it proper to use a small ‘a’ and when do we use a capital ‘A’?”
Not only are television news shows having a difficult time with these Arabic names. Newspapers across the country, who are struggling as it is to keep their heads above water after the advent of internet news, are finding it almost impossible to report a story of this type and get every spelling correct. “When we get stories like this latest one, everyone in the newsroom lets out a collective groan because we know it’s gonna be long hours and getting out the Arabic dictionaries to make sure that we have the correct spelling of the names,” said assistant breaking news editor, Joe Jones at the Chicago Trib. “Hell, look at us; we’re willing to shorten our name to the ‘Trib’ so why can’t they cut us a break and shorten something like ‘Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’ to ‘U.F. Abdul’ or even ‘Umar Ab.’ I mean, can you imagine if the guy had had one or two accomplices? We’d still be trying to spell their names correctly and the latest issue of the paper would miss deadline for sure.”
In a related story, stocks of Al Jazeera News Network, or ‘AJE’ as it is known in its English version, continue to soar as advertisers flock to the only news outlet that has the ability to get a correct version of the news out in the least amount of time. When asked how they do it so quickly, news commentator, Khalida Bin Qanna, based in AJE’s newsroom in Qatar said, “look, we speak Arabic, the main language of these terrorists. Although the Arabic language uses vowels extensively, we don’t use them unnecessarily like putting a ‘u’ after a ‘q’. It is simply not needed, and I think that is where a lot of Americans get hung up. They are so busy looking for reasons behind their spellings that they don’t realize that most of these names can just be made up. At the end of the day, no one really cares. In reality, the guy who attempted the terrorist act is simply an Islamic terrorist. Period.”