Time to #RespectTheÑ Again: English-Language Media Can’t Handle Ñ in Peña’s Death

Oct 16, 2014
8:22 AM

A few months ago, we reminded the Internet (specifically English-language media outlets) to #RespectTheÑ. The point is simple: a letter that might look weird to non-Spanish speakers, is actually pretty common to those who know Spanish. Yet, when you get the AP to tweet out the following, it leads to confusion and just plain editorial ignorance:

Fast forward to last night. When we mourned the loss of the great Elizabeth Peña (Jacob’s Ladder, La Bamba), many of our readers started noticing that media was at it again. There was no “ñ” in the copy. Now, some of you might say, “Get over it,” but we say this: not including the “ñ” in Peña’s last name at a time when we are honoring her legacy would have caused an uproar if, say, actor Will Smith passed away and media outlets wrote, “Will Smythe.” It was disrespectful to Peña’s legacy. Removing the “ñ” in Peña’s last name changes her name to “Pena,” which leads to a change in pronunciation to her last name, as well as introduces the Spanish word Pena (sorrow) to the mix, which actually would apply to how we felt when we heard of Peña’s death but also to our “SMH moment” when it comes to English-language media. As some tweeters (including our own Rebeldes) pointed out:

They were reacting to this:


That tweet and others night lead the LA Times to finally make the change:

Yet, it is obvious that such an editorial mistake resonates with people who understand the issue (just see our Facebook too):

You can see the responses to that tweet here, even with the response we gave one hater:

Anyway, here are some examples of English-language outlets who got it wrong last night:



Anyone who ran AP story, like ABC News, CBS News and FOX News.




NBC News


Variety (They have since fixed this headline.)


The New York Daily News


Even popular Latino Facebook sites.


This is 2014, people. All you need to do is Google, “how to type a ñ” and you will get this very useful post from 2009. It’s not that hard, and even if the AP doesn’t want to do it for the strange excuse that we still run computers from 1985, doesn’t mean that actual news outlets should be lazy as well. Because at this stage, it is laziness, and it is disrespectful, specifically to Peña’s legacy. Spanish editorial issues matter, especially since (wait for it) the United States is expected to become the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world by 2050.

Let’s do this, English-language media. It’s not that hard.