“Eleven Jinping” costs an Indian newsreader her job

Image: AP Photo
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Newsreaders tend to spend time learning and practising the correct pronunciation of foreign names. Regardless, being live on camera and keeping up with the teleprompter can cause jitters, and errors.

An English newsreader at state-run broadcaster Doordarshan had an embarrassing moment on Thursday, when Chinese president Xi Jinping arrived in New Delhi for his talks with prime minister Narendra Modi. She confused the Chinese leader’s family name—Xi—for the Roman numeral XI, and read out his name as “Eleven Jinping”.

The broadcaster lost no time in letting her go.

“It’s true, we have sacked the concerned newsreader. We are putting systems in place to make sure such things don’t happen in future,” Prasar Bharti CEO Jawahar Sircar told Quartz.

There are others who make this mistake. Fortunately for them, not while reading news for a massive live audience.

Late night bulletins at Doordarshan are usually read by casual news readers since the regular staff isn’t keen on working late hours. The casual news readers work on contract and are not on Doordarshan’s payroll.

India’s media routinely gets conventions on the names of East Asian leaders wrong. Reports can be replete with “Mr Jinping said” or “Mr Keqiang said.”

Although China had initially said it will invest $100 billion in India, Xi announced investments worth only $20 billion over the next five years. The two countries will jointly work on railway universities, Chinese industrial parks and civil nuclear cooperation.

But this summit is memorable for the state broadcaster only for having contributed a stellar candidate to the annals of journalism bloopers.

Here is the correct pronunciation of the Chinese president’s name.