More broadcast journalism

Baker, John M. JMB at STRADLEY.COM
Tue May 4 15:19:41 UTC 2010

        I'm not an academic, but as a lawyer I would call these
misleading and pejorative characterizations.  Note that some of these
characterizations can be one but not the other.

        If you're looking for something less judgmental, then I would
say that the passage is written from a particular perspective.  Another
way of saying this, as Jon has already suggested, is that the writing is

        The journalist who wrote this passage would probably argue that
his or her role was to describe the subject's actions in a way that
would explain police interest in them, and using Jon's more neutral
language would not have accomplished that.  To put it somewhat
differently (I can't resist just a bit of snark), it was merely
corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an
otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Joel S. Berson
Sent: Tuesday, May 04, 2010 10:43 AM
Subject: Re: More broadcast journalism

At 5/4/2010 01:57 AM, Mark Mandel wrote:


Nearly, but I'm looking for something perhaps less slangy and more
academic.  The practice I'm repelled by is the choice of words to add
an emotional overtone to a statement so as to bias the reader's
reaction. For a quick example in the absence of better ones,
"So-and-so's irrational decision to whatever ...".

The OED tells me "loaded" = charged, burdened, laden, etc.  Perhaps
"emotionally charged language" (Jon's "loaded diction" is perhaps a
bit abstruse for historians, but "innuendo" might work in a
well-constructed phrase.)  Another sense is "1. d. fig. Charged with
some hidden implication or underlying suggestion; biased,
prejudiced", but biased and prejudiced didn't seem quite what I wanted.

(My first reading of ""Loaded diction" is what we called it in
freshman comp." was "freshman camp"!  I thought to myself, my Jon
started early.)


>m a m
>On Mon, May 3, 2010 at 7:14 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
> > I've just read an historian who does the same thing.  What is (are)
> > the best adjective(s) to describe this kind of writing and
> > speech?  (I want serious, scholarly ones, not the snarky.)
> >
> > Joel
> >
> > At 5/3/2010 05:47 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> > >It took two by-lined AP journalists to write the following [
> >
> > ]:
> > >
> > >"The surveillance video, made public late Sunday, shows the man
> > >down Shubert Alley and taking off his shirt, revealing another
> > >In the same clip, [he] looks back in the direction of the smoking
> > >and furtively puts the first shirt in a bag."
> > >
> > >I've watched the video several times, and simple accuracy demands
> > >"...walking down Shubert Alley" and "looks behind him and places
the first
> > >shirt in the bag."
> > >
> > >At least the article cites Mayor Bloomberg (for balance):  "'He may
or may
> > >not have been involved,' he said, adding it was a hot day and he
> > >simply have been trying to cool off."
> > >
> > >Whether or not the guy turns out to have been involved, the only
> > >reason to write "slipping," "furtively," and "in the direction of
> > >smoking vehicle" is to make his actions - in this clip -  seem
> > >suspicious.
> > >
> >

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