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.
How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.
While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.
A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.
We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.
Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.
Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).
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