Friday, March 5, 2010

CNN's Appalling Choice of Words

Headline writers have often been a little too quick to seize on the latest catch phrase and put them to work in inappropriate ways.

I wonder how many headlines employed "Where's the Beef?" on zoning, political, sports or feature stories, or "I was for it before I was against it" and any of the dozens of other phrases.

But this pickup and the echoing of a politically driven charge may have set a record for pure speed and thoughtlessness. When someone at CNN noticed, the chyron was changed, but not all that much: It went from "Dept. of Jihad?" to "Al Qaeda 7?" to "Are Justice Dept. lawyers disloyal?" accompanied by comments about whether a "loyalty test" should be required at the Justice Department.  My most charitable intrepretation is that this is what happens when someone falls in love with a phrase or concept, one that seems so exciting and bound to stir the audience, but doesn't think about the impact or consequences. We specialize in words, people. Let's find our own.

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