Academia in the media: Perks and Pitfalls

I contributed some quotes to a BBC Newsbeat article (Accents: Which came first ‘bath’ or ‘barth’?), published on 11th June 2015. As is usual with media engagements like this, the journalist first made contact only the week before and required me to speak to her the day after. This is actually a little more time than I’ve had when giving comments elsewhere.

When you’re actually being interviewed for something like this, you obviously have to try to be brief yet interesting, whilst not saying anything inaccurate. This means details of your research specialism can get lost or be subject to misinterpretation. Often, it can be the throw-away line that can lead to problems, and in the article one such line has led to some unfortunate framing of the first part of the article.

For clarity, although the North East of England was settled in by the Romans and then by people from the north of Germany and Denmark, there was no Scandinavian (Viking) settlement in Newcastle upon Tyne. We know this due to there being no settlements with Scandinavian name elements in Northumberland, and only three in the south of county Durham, but eighty-nine in North Yorkshire, as discussed in the first chapter of an excellent book by Joan Beal (Urban North-Eastern English. Beal, J [2012]). So, whilst my quote that “People in the north east don’t speak with a Norwegian accent, but they do sound different to a Midlands accents, and that is due to settlement patterns.” is basically correct, what I said makes it very easy to misinterpret as ‘Geordies speak the way they do because of the Vikings’ (which they don’t).

Aside from issues like these, interacting with people in the media is really necessary, and can be good fun viagra in griechenland. It’s also great to see your research area being looked at by new audiences, not just those working in your field.Dr Chris Montgomery

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