OLD Media Moves

More adjectives, please

October 14, 2008

Allen Wastler, the managing editor of CNBC.com adds his two cents to the current discussion in business journalism about what words to use to accurately describe the stock market’s daily gyrations.

Allen WastlerWastler writes, “The market-write, typically updated 6 times a day rain or shine, is the bread and butter of business coverage. Yet the work is often under-appreciated.

“And then, to add insult to injury, the market writer often gets slapped around for word choice. A 50-point drop: is that a ‘fall,’ ‘trip,’ or ‘stumble.’ How about a 100-200 point drop? ‘Dive’ or ‘dip’? More than 300-points? ‘Rout’? ‘Sell-off’? When can we use ‘face plant’?

“Of course if you have days like you did last week, the dreaded ‘c’-word gets considered. That’s usually where a committee gets involved. The ‘c’-word means so much. A few arguments popped up in the business journalism community about some organizations that chose to use it last week, albeit with some qualifiers like ‘slow motion.’

“But arguments ensue about the little words too. One man’s ‘dive’ is another man’s ‘stumble.’ And when you get reversals of direction, like we’re apparently going to get this week, one woman’s ‘rocket shot’ is another woman’s ‘jump.’ And readers often let us know when their thesaurus disagrees with ours.”

Read more here.

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