New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan tackles her paper’s unwillingness to use plain, accurate language in an almost hard-hitting post, “‘Targeted Killing,’ ‘Detainee’ and ‘Torture’: Why Language Choice Matters”. She asks editors about these choices and gets, sorry to say, mushy answers. She concludes:
When news organizations accept the government’s way of speaking, they seem to accept the government’s way of thinking. In The Times, these decisions carry even more weight.
Word choices like these deserve thoughtful consideration – and, at times, some institutional soul-searching.
By my reckoning, the Times could do a bunch more soul-searching.