50 Ways to Spell ‘Quaddafi’

Here at CJR, we’ve been thinking a lot lately about the informational implications of fragmentation in the news. So we’ve been appreciating the nice little metaphor occasioned by the appearance of Muammar Quaddafi [sic? maybe?] at the UN earlier today: media outlets’ wildly divergent—and yet, all kind of correct—spellings of the Libyan president’s name:

CNN: Gadhafi
Fox News: Qaddafi
MSNBC: Khaddafy
AP: Gadhafi
New York Times: Qaddafi
Wikipedia: al-Gaddafi

The Washington Post, however, wins some kind of prize for its employment of two different spellings in the same paper: Gaddafi and, in a reprinted AP article, Gadhafi.

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.