Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The O word

How is it that the same spark of crea- tivity seems to whack editors upside the head all at once across this great land of ours? Take a bow, Montgomery, Bakersfield, Stamford, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Atlanta, Detroit (News), KanCity, Greenville (the old hometown), and Milwaukee. And a special round of disdain for the Post-Dispatch, which put an "It's official" lede under the byline of a writer who (judging from what appears to be the original at the NYT) did nothing to deserve it.

If we could put in a preemptive request? Christmas won't come early. 'Twon't be the season. Your Fighting Whatevertheyares aren't going to Go Bowling or be Bowled Over. That should get us through the next month.



Anonymous WordPorn said...

Hilarious and sad at the same time! It's like they took a press release and its title and just slapped it on the front page. Hmm...

4:30 PM, December 02, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK. The cliche doesn't bother me in the slightest. But numerous stories about this have used phrases like "The U.S. economy is officially in recession", which is much worse in my book -- at least "It's official" is recognizable as a cliche.

What bothers me is a meta question: Just who, exactly, decided that one particular private think tank's pronouncements on the one specific question of whether we're in a recession or not (to the exclusion of innumerable other questions and at least hundreds of other think tanks) should be in any way described as "official"? In my book, if it's not the government making the pronouncement -- and our government stopped making this particular sort of pronouncement decades ago, as the president of this think tank helpfully explained in a radio interview the other day -- then it's not "official". Metaphorical officialness is doesn't cut it in what is supposed to be a factual news story.

It used to be that government agencies could send mail (remember paper mail?) by franking their envelopes with the logo or seal of the agency; there would always be a warning "Official use only. Penalty for private use $300" or very similar. NBER is a private think tank -- it isn't even as quasi-official as the National Academy of Sciences -- so nothing it says ought to be described as an "official" determination of anything.

(That reminds me of another peeve I have with news writing -- most commonly broadcast, less so in written forms: an execution, by definition, is a judicial killing. No killing by a non-state actor can ever be correctly described as an "execution". It may be "homicide", it may even be "murder" in the appropriate situation, but never, ever, "execution".)

11:44 PM, December 02, 2008  

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