"For the most part, the Republican Party is the only outlet where conservatives have a voice, so we have to use it. But it functions like a rusty knife we use only because we can't cut our steaks with a spoon."- Matthew Rathel

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Conservative Slams Journalists Over Sensationalism

Today I will be short, but I would like to quickly discuss how sensationalism has become the norm in a world where the internet provides the majority of Americans with their news coverage, and in doing so I would like to consider the use of the word "slam" in hard news articles. We all know that the definition of "news" is ever-changing and that it is currently evolving into a more affluent medium across which information can flow around the world and is slowed only by the typist's fingers. But in the transition I believe that the discipline risks losing its professionalism, and there are many cases to be made for how little verbs like "slam" indicate a shift from factual reporting to emotional dialogue.


In the news coverage from the past week a Google News search retrieves over 6,000 articles where the title or lead uses the word "slams" to describe one person talking about another. When did this become normal practice? And how does the journalist defend this against an argument pointing out that it is a cheap way to draw attention to an article? Despite recent use, the word itself doesn't mean what it is being used to say— to slam is to commit a violent physical action. Although slang words often make their way into our language, this is a case where one is being thrust into the political arena because it appeals to the same side of the American psyche that continues to persuade mildly-intelligent people to watch professional wrestling. In the current news environment a choice must be made as to which direction our outlets will take: either we protect the respected language that has been refined over the years in an attempt to report facts without imposing the influence of rouge words on the event, or we hand the profession over to the non-writer by using his language despite the fact that it changes the meaning of the story.


It may seem as if I am cherry picking here, but the truth is that little words make a big difference. When you read through news articles from various newspapers, try to find those words that were not there when you were younger, and in doing so I think you will find that they are clues to the opinion of the journalist— sometimes the will of the journalist to impose his views on his story is so strong that he must hint and jab in his wording because he or she just can't accept the fact that news is supposed to be impartial. That is the battle every writer must face but the newspaper reporter seems to lose it more often than most others.

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