Culture

Needed: A New Style Guide

This is mostly a pet peeve, but I think it’s also a worthwhile, albeit small, point. I cannot stand the way TV news reporters report statements made on Twitter. The most obvious example is Donald Trump’s Twitter feed. We all know Trump loves Twitter, and whatever you think about how he uses it is an argument for another time. The simple fact is he uses it — a lot — and reporters have to report on it. And when they do,  reporters use his exact Twitter handle “@RealDonaldTrump.” What I mean is they say “At Real Donald Trump” pronouncing the @ sign.  

Do they really need to do that? Why can’t they say, “Donald Trump said on Twitter today” or “Donald Trump tweeted” or some other locution? If Donald Trump told an interviewer something on NBC, no one would say “Donald Trump said on channel 4.” If he called a New York Times reporter, the Times wouldn’t write, “In a phone interview from telephone number 212-555-5555″ or whatever. The best comparison is probably e-mail. When prominent politicians send out an e-mail, newspapers and television networks don’t repeat the exact e-mail address. So why repeat the exact Twitter handle?

It’s not that big a deal with Trump’s Twitter handle because it’s pretty close to his name. But some people have weird Twitter handles because someone else got their real name first or because they chose something funny or ironic. And even if you feel compelled to repeat the Twitter name, there’s really no reason to pronounce the damn at-sign. Twitter is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. I think style guides should adapt accordingly, damn it.

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