Although the post has some good stories about papers that have tried to incorporated accent marks and other diacritical marks, it seemed to me to skip over some important questions that need to be considered when thinking about whether a publication should use these marks.
At a newspaper, there are a few issues. First, straight from the AP Stylebook:
Do not use any diacritical marks on general wires because they cause garble in many newspaper computers.The second issue at most newspapers is the time restraints. If the reporters add the proper accent marks to names, that's great. But what about names from other sources. Should you spend your time hunting down Hugo Chávez in all wire copy and making sure it has the acute accent?
As Bill Walsh of The Washington Post says in his book "Lapsing Into a Comma":
If your publication has the time and resources to use accents and other diacritical marks correctly, go for it. But I maintain that it's impossible to use them consistently and correctly in a deadline-intensive medium such as daily newspaper journalism. If you can't use them consistently and correctly, you shouldn't use them at all.I tend to agree with that point of view. If copy came across on deadline, could you pick which words would need accent or diacritical marks? (And where?):
facade, niche, melee, deja vu, rendezvous, cafe, a la carte, bon appetit, coup d'etat, masseuse, naive, vis-a-vis, aficionado, cliche, El Nino
It would be hard to get all of them right all of the time on deadline. So is it worth it?
As if the question of being able to get accent and diacritical marks right in your publication, there's also the debate about whether they should be used at all. I will discuss that in another post, though.