Friday, January 25, 2008

Subtleties in Language

You had to have been living under a rock this week if you did not hear about the passing of actor, Heath Ledger. But while you may know the generalities, it is very possible you missed some of the criticism leveled at paparazzi and other yellow journalists as to how they treated mourners and those close to the star.

So I was reading an article today and one of the lead sentences caught my eye. It said:
Although his family has refused to release details about the late actor's funeral services or final resting place, a private viewing apparently took place Friday at a New York City funeral home.
Notice how that is worded: "...his family has refused to release details..."

That is a subtle jab at attendees from E! News Online.

Why do I say that? Simple: E! is in the business of reporting information on celebrities and those celebrities, and non-celebrities close to them, are being tight-lipped as to the details of Heath Ledger's funeral and burial plot. Since police set up a barricade around the event
...ostensibly to shield the family from a barrage of onlookers as they paid their respects...
E! and other reporters are having a difficult time getting said information, and this is their way of prodding celebrity readers into talking.

Think about it: if you were reporting on this, you probably wouldn't use the word, "refused," you would say "declined" or "wish to remain quiet about." But that is not E!'s job; E! News Online is there to get the facts (well, it's entertainment news, so "facts" is a bit nebulous, but you know what I mean) and you cannot always sweet-talk people to get what you want. Not to mention that this is headline news - there are literally hundreds of reporters and photographers there, all trying to get "The Scoop" - this is not a time for playing nice.

This shows how important, and effective, precise wording and usage is to achieving the intended effect. It also shows that, regardless of their chosen field, even entertainment journalists have to be good at what they do to land a premium gig!

© C Harris Lynn, 2008

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