Kathleen Quillian is grateful for some notable journalists she says are similar to her: they have trouble speaking clearly.
I remember in elementary school, we would go around the class taking turns reading aloud from out textbooks. I wished I could speak as clearly and as fast as some of the other students. But each time it was my turn to read, a cold sweat took over my entire body. My jaw would lock and I would get a sharp pain in my teeth. As I forced the words out of my mouth, I would stumble over the sentences. I hated reading in front of others — and I still do.
Even now as I am reading this commentary, I worry about losing my place, so I use my pointer finger to guide me. But I no longer slur my words together. Over the years, I have learned to take my time and enunciate. Concentrating on my speech has made me more observant of journalists who don’t have the so-called “perfect delivery”. I was recently watching Sunday Morning on CBS and heard a reporter, Mo Rocca, do a story about designer glasses. Wow! He has a really strong lisp. But his story was so witty and interesting, it was easy to forgive. And then there is Barbara Walters, of course. Her speech is certainly easy to criticize, but everyone overlooks it since she is one of the best journalists of our time.
We teach young school students that we should all try to sound the same when we talk… but that would be boring. I listen to all the lisps, stutters and accents on the radio and I am thankful — that I have a chance in this business!