This morning a reporter was doing live coverage information about the Kennedy funeral. He tries to do a respectful report, yet continuously refers to the man as Teddy. Refer to the man as Ted Kennedy or Mister Kennedy or Senator Kennedy, not Teddy. You’re speaking like you’re old buddies at the club house and even if you were you shouldn’t do this piece using that familiarity.
This is just a thread about my annoyance with that reporter and his clueless reporting.
Before yesterday, I think I could count the number of times I heard anyone call him “Teddy” on one hand. Now everyone is doing it, and I agree it’s obnoxious. Edward, Ted and Senator Kennedy would all be acceptable, “Teddy” is for his friends and family.
That use is used to demean the Ted Kennedy. I’m referring to the use by a reporter that is supposed to be respecting the guy. I’m also not going to side track into the issues other than proper respect in name usage of the deceased by the reporter. I just wish the reporters covering this had some class. Liking or hating somebody it’s always nice and professional to show respect.
I didn’t hear the report, but he may have mentioned other Kennedys, Misters Kennedy, and even Senators Kennedy, in which case using first names is an appropriate way to distinguish them. I suspect the full name and an appropriate honorific were used on first reference. After that, how often do you need to hear it?
And although Ted sounds better than Teddy from people who weren’t close friends or relatives, referring to the man as Edward when that’s not how he was best known seems stilted.
For every other member of Congress, I would say that the proper form of address should be followed. And I would still expect that in the NYT. But this one person was different.
In the beginning lots of us called him “Teddy.” Some of his family was still calling him that. Then some of us called him “Ted.” Sometimes it was “Edward.” Then we all seemed to have settled on what was most comfortable for us.
After forty-seven years we felt like we were on familiar terms with him. And like it or not, so did journalists and reporters. Many of them were not born when he became a Senator.
In this one case, I don’t think it’s disrespectful. I think it’s affectionate.
Marilyn Monroe wasn’t a nickname, it was the name she used professionally and it was her legal name. It wasn’t her birth name, but insisting on birth names would be ridiculous. The headlines when Gerald Ford died weren’t “Nation mourns Leslie King.”
Most people knew the man as Ted Kennedy. The press usually calls people what they want to be called: for example, John Edwards’ legal name is Johnny Edwards, but reporters call him what he prefers. Ross Perot was called by that name rather than Henry Ross Perot.
The same rule should be followed after the person dies, rather than trying to personalize the story to attact eyeballs and sell papers. The New York Post headline the other day was something like “Tears for Camelot: thousands mourn their beloved Teddy.” That’s an extreme example but the references to “Teddy” have mostly been of that maudlin style.
I don’t think it’s disrespectful so much as it is unprofessional, and in some cases distasteful. It’s a bit like hearing that someone you barely know has died, and acting like you were great friends so you can get attention. Or free food at the funeral.