Should Newspeople Correct Baby Name Errors?

In a recent Palm Beach Post article, the parents of a boy named Bodhi Jai claimed that Bodhi meant “peaceful warrior” and that Jai meant “early bird.”

Jai might refer to a type of bird, but there’s nothing “early” about it. And “peaceful warrior”? Nope. Bodhi means “awakening” or “enlightenment.” It’s related to Buddha. The parents were partially incorrect on one definition, totally incorrect on the other.

Good journalism involves fact-checking. Both of these names have verifiable definitions, yet none of the newspeople who saw the article before it was published bothered to see if the parents’ claims were true. They just let the errors stand.

Were they right to simply report what the parents said, or were they wrong to disseminate misinformation? (It’s a question I ask myself every time I see a bad baby name definition in a news article–about once or twice a month.)

Should newspeople verify parent-reported baby name definitions?

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Source: Child’s name carries a story to last lifetime

4 thoughts on “Should Newspeople Correct Baby Name Errors?

  1. I guess its a matter that they don’t won’t to offend or humiliate the parents, but still, they should technically correct the parents.

  2. I think about this all the time, too – you’re absolutely correct about the perpetual nature of mistakes.

    This is my take: the parents are saying “to us, this name means x.” They may be slightly off, as with Jai. They may be wrong, as with Bodhi. Sometimes it’s a stretch – does Kaylee really mean pure? And other times, it is a matter of debate – after all, even the evergreen Katherine’s origins are open to discussion.

    Sometimes someone writes to me and says, “My name/my grandmother’s/my husband’s name is XYZ, what does it mean?” My standard reply has become that I’ll be happy to write about XYZ, but often the only satisfying answers come from the person who chose the name. It’s like all those amazing stories you’re sharing about unusual name choices from the past – you’d never guess!

  3. I’m a journalist, and I know how crucial it is to fact check all information. I would hate humiliating the parents, but accuracy is the number-one priority in the media world. If you’re not accurate, you’re not credible, and that just won’t do.

  4. Journalists should at least clarify that “common meanings” of the name are…

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