Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Around teh webs

A couple of links today, one sent by a W6 reader, the other by a student. The first (Thanks, Benjy), language policing in Chicago. The CEO of the Tribune Co. has issued a proclamation:

The man at the top of the troubled media empire took time out of his real job this week to issue a list of words and phrases — 119 of them, to be exact — that must never, ever be uttered by anchors or reporters on WGN-AM (720), the news/talk radio station located five floors below his office in Tribune Tower.

The aim seems to be to discourage "newsspeak." I have two comments on this. One, I personally would like my news anchors to sound like they're reading the news, not as though they are sipping coffee in my living room. The increasing friendlification of the news really bothers me--if I hear an NPR reporter use the word "folks" one more time, I'm gonna...well, to be honest, I'm going to just shake my head ruefully and get on with my day.

My second comment on this story is...since when is "bare naked" newsspeak? In any event, I'm not sure why people are getting bent out of shape over what is mostly a generalized anti-cliche memo. Perhaps, because it involves language, we think of it as a free speech issue. But it seems to me more like a verbal corporate dress code.

Link #2, your daily litty funny, comes from my student Adi: If All Stories Were Written Like Science Fiction Stories. A sample:

He logged onto the central network using his personal computer, and waited while the system verified his identity. With a few keystrokes he entered an electronic ticketing system, and entered the codes for his point of departure and his destination. In moments the computer displayed a list of possible flights, and he picked the earliest one. Dollars were automatically deducted from his personal account to pay for the transaction.

7 comments:

Art O.T. Grid said...

Just read the list.
I like it.
I'd like to add the less than and fewer thing.

I am old.

jrlennon said...

You mean to my list from a few posts ago? Oh geez, I could go on for days about common errors like those...that list was geared more toward the specific problems of my students this semester, though.

Our local supermarket chain, Wegmans, has earned my eternal respect for marking their express lanes "15 items or fewer." (Though I still feel funny about the missing apostrophe in their name.)

rmellis said...

I get his point, though. There is a kind of radio journalism short-hand language that instantly puts my mind to sleep. Instead of issuing a proclamation, though, he should have held a daylong workshop for his employees with a free catered lunch and made his pitch as to why this language is weak. I'm sure that once it's pointed out, most people would be happy to make the changes on their own.

I have a bias against management by memo. Friendly meetings with food ALWAYS work better.

Art O.T. Grid said...

Well, I did like your list from a few posts ago, but I meant I liked Randy Michaels' list...

Hope said...

Friendly meetings with food are actually part of the rules of engagement for the software conversion meetings I have to run here on campus. Which reminds me -- I need to get snacks for tomorrow!

I also organized an entire web site meeting for the staff of an art museum around pumpkin and apple pies.

Matt said...

The list does have some merit: words like "flee" can make human beings sound like cockroaches. Then again, what does he propose for "alleged", particularly when regarding "alleged" criminals? The science geek in me is pleased though, in that he respects Newton with the exclusion of "completely destroyed".

jrlennon said...

Good point! Perhaps he prefers people accused of crimes just to be called "criminals"?

It seems the list is mostly a list of stuff he's sick of hearing.