We have become so conditioned to hype and hysterical writing that it is a part of our everyday lexicon. Just last week there was a bomb threat at a bank. Someone according to the news had thrown a silver container out of a car window. Lock down was in effect. All very interesting, and I thought to myself, it might just be a litter-bug tossing out his energy drink, or might be a bomb thrown to what purpose? Blow up a garden bush? But one never knows in this day and age. The story would have progressed quite nicely without me, had not the announcer then gone on about the traffic being diverted.
What a disaster! he cried out in a panicked voice. The line to get out of this parking lot is a nightmare folks!
Disaster? When did we stop describing traffic delays as tiresome, troublesome events and relabel them a disaster? A flood wiping out a village disaster– yes…an earthquake fire…you get the idea..but a delay in a parking lot?
You might have forgiven the announcer and chalked it up to local news, not much going on in sleepy hollow sort of thing, but I was reading The Times the other day and a headline roared at me:
78 percent of all jobs go to immigrants
Catch the reader’s attention…and then lie to them? In fact, the article was about the decrease in hiring of migrants. I have no doubt quite a few readers will have just read the headlines, and muttered later on in the day about all the jobs going to foreigners. It was a misleading title to say the least, geared for one thing only, to create emotion and not necessarily a kind emotion. But as a reader, if you continue on to read…you are quickly let down by the article, no matter how well it was written, or the quality of the prose. It did not deliver the emotive hype promised by that headline.
As writers I believe we need to be highly aware of the power of words, and words misused often enough will lead to “spilt milk being a disaster” in the local news. I understand the need to sell papers, but when did it become so commonplace to be a pusher of hype and leave the basis of journalism at the back door? What, where, when and why should be enough to report on without massive exaggeration. Are we as readers not getting exhausted from all this disaster? Is it easy to fall into this habit? Oh I think so just take a look at the title of this post. My brain hasn’t done anything interesting of late.