Republicans invented the term "Obamacare" as a way to denigrate the Affordable Care Act. NPR's hosts and reporters now commonly use the term, prompting the ire of some listeners. Is NPR "letting Fox drive the narrative," as one wrote?
Language can shape debate, policy and public opinion. Join us in wrestling with evolving definitions and acceptances of words.
My recent column on the use of words like "perky," "girlie" and "hottest" in referring to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand sparked thoughtful responses on how to write about women leaders. There were a couple of clubbings, too. The "Rule of Reversibility" might be a good place to start.
Reporter Ailsa Chang was accused of sexism when she described Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand as "perky" and speaking in a "girlie" voice. But what if the senator's supporters say the same, while admiring her forceful will in confronting the Pentagon? Are we undercutting women political leaders, or treating them differently from men? Is this a "Legally Blonde" moment?
Of the many responses to my post on what to call people over 60 (or 70, 80 or 90), the three responses repeated here stand out for their expressiveness — or in the case of Morning Edition sports commentator Frank Deford, for just being downright ornery. Or maybe wise. You might be stimulated to add your own.
When the headline on the Web version of a recent story called an active, 71-year-old midwife "elderly," she was offended. The reporter, meanwhile, asked for advice on what words to use. A check with experts finds division. Maybe, live forever and avoid labels? Please advise (about the labels).
NPR has been covering the recent conflict in Mali from on the ground. But when a listener heard several places being called "villages," she asked why the images of primitiveness. NPR's West Africa correspondent answered.
Your complaints are heard. Or at least those of some of us. The NPR newsroom announced today that it will no longer refer on-air to the president as "Mr." in second references. The current president and his successors will be called by their last name, like the rest of us. But his wife is still "Mrs." And when there is a woman president? Oh, the gender conundrums.
They are the subject of the fiscal cliff drama, and we find that the favored phrase by NPR reporters and hosts covering the negotiations is to call them "the wealthy." Some listeners rightfully object. However, alternatives such as "job creators" are also inaccurate and political.
Metaphors can be great for framing the urgency of a problem, but what do you do when the image isn't accurate? If you are the president or a Republican Congressional leader, you keep hammering with the metaphor anyway. It's all Ben Bernanke's fault.
Only the president of the United States is given the respect on air of being called "Mister" or by his office title in second references. I hereby announce on this election day that whoever wins, the honorific be dumped come the January inauguration. It's not just a matter of journalistic fairness. It's a matter of being American.