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updated: 11/18/2011 7:26 PM

Talk with the Editor: In poking fun at a name, do we poke fun at a culture?

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  • Friday's print edition centerpiece on new Cubs manager Dale Sveum.

    Friday's print edition centerpiece on new Cubs manager Dale Sveum.


We had what I thought was a pretty creative front page in today's print editions.

It featured a centerpiece package that was built primarily around the notion that most of us have difficulty figuring out how to pronounce the name of the new Cubs manager, Dale Sveum.

The front page tried to have some fun with that, saying, "If you think 'Sveum' is bad, try saying these names:" And then it listed Jeff Samardzija of the Cubs, Niklas Hjalmarsson of the Blackhawks, Israel Idonije of the Bears and Omer Asik of the Bulls.

I flinched a bit at the word "bad" in the subhead and wished we has used something like "hard to pronounce" instead. But otherwise, I was pleased that we had tried to take an offbeat approach to a story that wasn't all that deathly serious to begin with -- a sports team hiring a new manager -- and offered my praise at the news planning meeting this morning.

But one of the editors questioned whether we should be so happy with ourselves.

He asked whether the package might be offensive to people from the cultures that produced the names. To a Serbian, after all, there's nothing challenging or difficult about pronouncing "Samardzija."

By saying that a name is strange, are we inherently suggesting a culture or the people from that ethnic background are strange?

I don't know. It's a question that hadn't occurred to me. But it's one worth asking.

What do you think?

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