On-camera reporters do their best to stay polished and professional, but every once in a while, something happens that takes them out of the zone. And usually, it's utterly charming. That's certainly what happened to Ellen Fleming, a Massachusetts State House reporter for the NBC News affiliate WWLP-22News. In a short clip she posted to Twitter, Fleming lets her Boston accent slip for a moment before she stops and gathers herself. Though the flub didn't happen live on air, it went viral once Fleming posted the outtake online.
In the clip, Fleming is standing in the State House, delivering serious news. She says, “parts of this bill are similar to the executive orders that have already been put in place in New Hampsha.” She then quickly stops and corrects her pronunciation to “New Hampshire.” The endearing moment won over lots of people, with many recounting similar slips in their past.
Several reporters shared their own experiences with trying to keep their natural accents at bay, with one commenting that after watching the clip, “[she] felt seen, except with a NY accent!” Another mentioned that the same thing happened to her often on air, but that she “still love[s] my accent.”
Fleming's clip has now been viewed millions of times and, for the most part, people have been supportive. Whether sharing their own stories, stating that they love the accent, or posting funny memes, people have given her a lot of laughs with their comments. “It’s been a lot of fun, people certainly have their opinions on how they feel about the Boston accent, but it’s been mostly positive!” she shared.
So why do newscasters speak in a neutral accent instead of working with their natural voices? Simply, it opens them up to more job opportunities. Journalists are taught a non-regional accent when studying broadcasting to make them more appealing in reporting any market. Many reporters move around the country frequently and speaking without a regional accent makes it easier for them to get work. This is because it's been shown that viewers don't trust the news as much if it's being reported by someone with an accent that isn't local. To keep themselves available to report in any part of the country, on-air journalists will polish a General American accent.
Still, as Fleming's goof shows, it's harder than it seems to keep those accents at bay.
Newscaster Ellen Fleming recently let her natural Boston accent slip while getting ready for broadcast.
Sometimes that Boston accent slips out when you least expect it pic.twitter.com/urXO2xrQ6E
— Ellen Fleming (@EllenFlem) January 12, 2023
After posting the outtake, she got an outpouring of support.
I LOVE that, Ellen! 40 years ago as a young news anchor/reporter at a very small-market television station in southeast Oklahoma my Boston accent would slip out from time to time. So embarrassing. Probably more forgivable in Western Mass, but not certain of that! 🙂
— Bob Burg (@BobBurg) January 13, 2023
In good company. This Chicago southsider guilty of dropping the “Jewels” and several “g’s.” I hear people love a hometown hero. 😜 pic.twitter.com/kbIPm7WT6i
— Jen DeSalvo (@TheJenDeSalvo) January 13, 2023
That’s how those of us from southern New Hampshire might say it anyway!
— Ryan Breton (@RyanBretonWX) January 13, 2023
🤣 It happens to me too… “cuppa cawfee” 😆
— Dee Dee (វណ្ណឌី) (@the_westender) January 13, 2023