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‘Osama-Obama’: Media struggle to get names right

By Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:45:00 05/04/2011

Filed Under: Obama Articles, Acts of terror, Media, Social networking

MANILA, Philippines?It?s a time for ?oops? moments.

As news about the killing of Osama bin Laden exploded through the mainstream and social media, reporters struggled to get the name right?some of them with little success.

It didn?t help that the name of the man who officially broke the news to the world, US President Barack Obama, is almost identical to that of his country?s most wanted man.

Like other news outlets, the US-based Fox40 news network tried to get the story first, but didn?t quite get it right. Its breaking news in the TV crawler cited sources saying that ?Obama bin Laden (is) dead.?

Newsweek magazine immediately picked up the gaffe in its Twitter account: ?Somebody needs a copy editor.? The message included a link to the magazine?s Tumblr account, which contained a screen grab of the error.

Tongue-twisting

In the Philippines, some journalists twisted their tongues while reporting on the death of the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks that killed around 3,000 people in the United States nearly a decade ago.

Initial reports, many of them speculations from anxious observers, immediately appeared via Twitter. A user who works for a local business paper later wondered in Filipino: ?So how many Obama/Osama typos (errors) would come out??

In an evening newscast, a male anchor mixed up the names. He kept saying ?Obama? when he meant ?Osama.? A fellow anchor later put emphasis on Osama?s name when it was his turn to read the news.

On Tuesday morning, a popular radio broadcaster mentioned ?Barack Osama.? His co-anchor later commented on the odd similarity between the names of the US president and the international terrorist.

Both sculptors

An opinion piece in the website of Al Jazeera news network tackled the so-called ?mythos of Obama and Osama.?

?Obama and Osama may rhyme,? wrote columnist Larbi Sadiki, a senior lecturer in Middle East politics at the University of Exeter, ?but that is not their only correlation. A Pygmalion resides in both of them. They are, to an extent, sculptors.?

Sadiki added: ?In turn, these two sculptors, Obama and Osama, are examples of how extraordinary men?when struck by the power of ideas, ideals and dreams, regardless of the cause?go on about sculpting their Galateas?their statues, dummies or puppets. Each is in love with a statuesque vision, a set of ideals or dreams that they have sought to breathe life into.?



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