August 10, 2004

Media Organizations At A Loss For Verbs

Newsrooms Struggle To Adequately Capture Political Debate

NEW YORK (Rhodes Media Services) -- With the presidential election getting closer by the minute, and with the candidates' campaigns becoming more and more belligerent to one another, newsrooms nationwide have had a difficult time capturing political exchanges in the proper evocative prose.

Headlines over the past weeks have relied heavily on such verbs as "slams" and "bashes" when referring to one candidate attacking the other, such as "Kerry Slams Bush On Iraq War" and "Bush Blasts Kerry On Vietnam Record."

"You know, it's kind of silly, when you really think about it," said George B. Irish, chairman of the American Press Institute and president of Hearst newspapers. "If you watch any political speeches by Bush or Kerry you rarely, if ever, see any slamming going on, or blasting for that matter. To read today's headlines, you'd think the presidential election was akin to a WWF Smackdown. But it's not. Quite frankly, it's boring as dirt. We should really be using verbage that reflects that."

Some headlines suggested by Irish included "Kerry Delivers Monotone Critique of Iraq War" and "Bush Offers Discombobulated Assessment of Kerry and Vietnam."

"I'm sorry, but when I see Kerry droning on and on like Lurch at the front door, I can't honestly call what I'm witnessing a bash of anything: I call it a nap," said Irish. "Likewise, when I see Bush bumble his way through a mediocre speech, the word 'blast' seldom comes to mind: more like 'aspirin.'"

Posted by Ryan at August 10, 2004 03:31 PM
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