Silent Archimedes

The media’s lack of regard for strength of verbs is bad journalism

Posted by silentarchimedes on November 16, 2008

Shares tumble 1.1%!!

Shares tumble 1.1%!!

Don’t you hate it when you read a financial headline, “GE shares tumble…” only to find that the “tumble” refers to a 1.1% or $0.60 drop. Today I read a headline, “Retail sales plunge record xxxx% in October.” Well, the xxxx refers to 2.8%. Now in terms of a pure drop in sales, 2.8% does translate to millions and millions of dollars. However, plunge used in the sentence refers to the percentage, and 2.8% is hardly a plunge. That’s equivalent to getting a 97.2% on an exam after getting 100% the last time. Hardly a plunge in my book. A better verb should have been fall or drop. The media needs to save those strong verbs for when they actually do happen. What happens if retail sales drop 5%? What verb is slightly stronger than plunge? What about 15%? Or 25% Plunge appears more appropriate for those higher percentages than 2.8%.

The media plays too influential of a role in society. They are very biased and definitely use strongly emotional words to draw undue fear and anxiety to readers. They shape the views we have of the present and future. Journalism, especially in this internet digital age is no longer checked and balanced like the past.  It used to be a craft and even an art.  An honor to report injustice in the world and document history. Just over ten years ago, the main sources of news were either newspapers/magazines or the three nightly news programs and CNN on cable television. Now, media is always there on the computer and even more on cable channels. The rush to be the first to report the news and the pressure to grab the reader’s attention have definitely made the media more biased than ever.

The public needs to hold the media accountable and responsible for unjustifiablely emotional news.

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