Had an interesting exchange today with The Fab Sage, a fellow blogger and the only radical libertarian Tom Jones-worshipping nightclub hopper ever hired to write editorials for The Dallas Morning News, about mediaspeak. The issue: Why is so much journo so weak? Here’s some of his take–and you’ll notice that this guy has some mean writing chops himself:
Having a clear mind and something worth saying are enough for most to write passably. That’s a huge reason why so much journalism is so bad: there is nothing worth saying, but space and air must be filled, and deadline pressure precludes careful editing and revision. What rules is Profit, not Truth. The result is lifelessness and pretension in the effort to SEEM to say something. In that mode it’s a small step to thinking that “engage in the showering process” says something somehow superior to “take a shower.”
Good points. Beyond the pompous word choice, I think I’m even more maddened by the sheer endless repetition of everything the media gets its teeth into. Few try to phrase anything
in a fresh manner with some degree of what might be called freshness freshly, and nobody seems even slightly embarrassed to parrot the Cliche of the Day for the 100th time.
Typical radio/TV newsblab: “In terms of the way forward in Iraq, of course, it’s been clear for a long time, even before the “Mission Accomplished” speech, that we weren’t going to be greeted as liberators, and now, given that the bar’s been raised by the troop surge, with some apparent progress on the ground but the political piece still being far from satisfactory, and all of the experts including General Petraeus on board in admitting that there is no military solution to Iraq, where do you see all this coming out in terms of some kind of closure, Steve Roberts?”
I mean, seriously, how many times have you heard the Cheney-whacking phrase “greeted as liberators” by now? Even taunting and mockery have gone stale. Of course it all goes back, as does so much else, to Orwell’s astute essay “Politics and the English Language.”
“Modern English prose . . . consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house.”
In terms of instituting some kind of agreement process that might, going forward, bring about the kind of closure that the American People expect, I’m with Orwell.