Sunday, July 16, 2017

Adjectives "B" Us

The AP Stylebook is very clear on the use of adjectives in news stories. "When in doubt, leave it out, if you have to use one, make sure it is the right one." 

Since WPTA21 is owned by an outfit named Quincy Newspapers, one would think that there might be an AP Stylebook floating around their news room. Guess not.

"....Saturday's dangerous boating accident..."

While one might argue that all accidents could be seen as dangerous, res ipsa loquiturthe adjective used in this story is wrong. 

Giving the kids in the WPTA21 newsroom the benefit of the doubt that an adjective might be needed to convey the gravity of the situation, DANGEROUS should have been discarded and the word SERIOUS would have been a much better fit.  

But why pepper stories with incorrect or inappropriate adjectives? As local TV news operations across the country have struggled to regain their one-time dominance of local ratings and revenue, many "consultants" (every TV station has one) have worked to have stories written to emotionally impact the viewers. The idea is that viewers will "connect" at an emotional level and this will enhance ratings, revenues, and profit. 

From the Maven's point of view, the over-reliance on out-of-town consultants by local stations has not improved things, instead, these long-distance charlatans have made local TV news a cliche, at best. 

While the Maven might be coming down a bit hard on the kids at WPTA21, one has to be thankful that on Saturday, our Twitter feeds were not blown up with Baba, the News Whisperer, and that other guy on the news falling all over themselves and breathless reporting an ACTIVE BOATER on Lake Gage.