Careful, the readers are 'gonna' blow!
Out in Sacramento, it seems the readers of the Bee are gonna be a might annoyed if they see that slang term again.
Public Editor Amando Acuna addresses the complaints in his Sunday column. As one reader wrote in an e-mail slugged "Gonna blow if I see 'gonna'":
'Gonna' is being used with increasing frequency in The Bee, and in news stories -- not just features -- on a fairly random basis," said Smith's Sept. 9 message. "It doesn't seem to be used as a way to communicate the flavor of a dialect someone might be using, nor does it seem to be intended to indicate education level ... is 'gonna' an accepted word in English grammar these days?Acuna found the word used at least 30 times in the Bee since Sept. 1. As he notes, while the AP discourages "gonna" for "going to," the stylebook does allow for its use when there is a genuine need to convey dialect or similar tone in a quotation.
Has it been blessed by the AP stylebook? More importantly, does it often lead to a negative perception of those quoted, when it's based on what the reporter heard rather than what the person speaking actually meant to say? If I were quoted that way, I think I'd be offended unless I had purposely tried to sound slangy to make a point."
Acuna found a gratuitous use or two, but most of the Bee's usages were in quotations or song titles (hey, when that happens what are ya gonna -- sorry, going to -- do?). The paper's features desk seems to be most willing to give some leeway on this, but surprisingly, the paper's sports desk has banned the word's use. That's going to require a lot of search and replace.
Sports copy desk chief Paul Bauman says a compelling reason to use the word is rare.
Acuna notes the increased pressure the Internet puts on news organizations to consider being less stuffy. But I think I'll let him have the last words on this. Cut them out and paste them over the newsroom door:
Along these same lines, as the paper attempts to attract young readers, it sometimes falls into the trap -- in print and online -- of relying on slang instead of wit and style to appear hip.