These are rough days. Everywhere you look, the work is too much, the time is too short, and Old Man Potter bears down without pause or mercy.
Why should it be any different for what we once called news? “Content” for some time has been the accepted cliché to describe the entertainment, outrage, rumor, speculation, scores and stats, forecasts and omens, click bait and even the actual news that arrives in a hundred forms and formats, also without pause or mercy.
The idea of news implies work, discipline, persistence, inquisitiveness, skepticism, humanity, local knowledge, devotion to the craft of writing, and perhaps even clear thought. Content is any damn thing you want it to be, with correspondingly squishy standards. The demand for more and more means the writing will get worse and worse.
“Content” is the most disagreeable word in the media business, but it now has a close rival.
Why is it that the less substance something has, the more precious language we use to describe it? Museums are curated. By curators. That’s it.
But stores are stocked with goods, libraries are filled with books, and newspapers, magazines, podcasts and the rest are edited. It’s nothing fancier than that.
Yes, the functions are similar. Select. Edit. Choose. Sort the wheat from the chaff.
But Shakespeare never said, “Brevity is the soul of must-see content,” so we get hastily thrown-together words and phrases not nearly so clever or helpful as the writer might imagine.
We get “utilize” for “use,” “residence” for “apartment” and “vehicle” instead of hot pink F-350. And, good grief, we get “signage.” We get “impact” for “affect,” and then get “negatively impacted” to cover the entire spectrum of want and woe.
Things are no longer written. They are “penned” or “authored.” Please tell me which hack first thought these were verbs.
Pre-planning IS planning. Ditto for its idiot cousin, preregistration.
Does anyone really know what an eatery is? Does it need cloth napkins and utensils not made of plastic? Or would QuikTrip count? A food truck? And when is a new restaurant not a new restaurant but instead a new “concept?” Please, I wish to know.
I have skills, but don’t ask me to catalogue or curate my skill set. Oh, the price point we pay for such pretentious language.
That is all the curation of verbiage I have energy for today. Perhaps some will be offended – it’s our national sport – and reach out to dialogue with me. Bring it on, but I’m not walking this one back.
Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at 816-350-6365 or email@example.com. He’s on Twitter at @FoxEJC.