Journalists often fret over objectivity and neutrality, but the very language they use to report their "objective" stories undercut the possibility of these goals from the start.
The headline for a story by Daily Finance's Jeff Bercovici last week read "NPR Retires 'Pro-Life' and 'Pro-Choice' in Futile Attempt at Neutrality." The piece reports NPR's new policy to avoid those terms and instead use "in favor of abortion rights" and "opposed to abortion rights." Bercovici argues that we already know what pro-life and pro-choice mean, we use them in conversation, they sum up the positions of the two camps, and therefore to try to take some of the charge out of the positions by giving them a new name is misguided and will only end up confusing things. He says pro-life and pro-choice "mean what they mean because we all agree that's what they mean," which he calls a "common-sense approach to language."
NPR's Managing Editor, David Sweeney, said in a memo to reporters that the changes are "aimed at ensuring the words we speak and write are as clear, consistent and neutral as possible." And in that sense, the change in terms does not succeed: pro-life and pro-choice are two very politically charged terms, but the issues behind them are obviously just as charged. Rather, the new language makes sense because of the very fact that these are not the accepted terms. As Bercovici points out, "it's not as if 'abortion rights' itself is a neutral phrase," but in the case of reproductive rights, each side is so entrenched in their positions and repeat the same talking points and use the same, politicized terms over and over, so its the media's duty to step back and reframe the argument in different language. The problem is that language has never been purely objective, and it's certainly not neutral in this age of military doublespeak and a self-serving corporate lexicon. The new NPR guidelines therefore open up greater room for debate by explaining the different positions in new ways, not more neutral ways.
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
Research by neuroscientists at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory helps explain how the brain regulates arousal.
The big day has come: You are taking your road test to get your driver's license. As you start your mom's car with a stern-faced evaluator in the passenger seat, you know you'll need to be alert but not so excited that you make mistakes. Even if you are simultaneously sleep-deprived and full of nervous energy, you need your brain to moderate your level of arousal so that you do your best.
A disturbing interview given by a KGB defector in 1984 describes America of today and outlines four stages of mass brainwashing used by the KGB.
- Bezmenov described this process as "a great brainwashing" which has four basic stages.
- The first stage is called "demoralization" which takes from 15 to 20 years to achieve.
- According to the former KGB agent, that is the minimum number of years it takes to re-educate one generation of students that is normally exposed to the ideology of its country.
When these companies compete, in the current system, the people lose.
- When a company reaches the top of the ladder, they typically kick it away so that others cannot climb up on it. The aim? So that another company can't compete.
- When this happens in the pharmaceutical world, certain companies stay at the top of the ladder, through broadly-protected patents, at the cost of everyday people benefitting from increased competition.
- Since companies have worked out how to legally game the system, Amin argues we need to get rid of this "one size fits all" system, which treats product innovation — "tweaks" — the same as product invention.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.