WJI Times Observer
Case in Point column
“A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word.” So goes the proverb (15:23). Every journalist knows it’s fundamental to be armed with a broad vocabulary in order to be effective. If you’re feeling crunched by a demanding schedule, you can still learn a word a day via e-mail.
Go to www.wordsmith.org and join “a community of more than 500,000
linguaphiles in 210 countries.” Anu Garg, originally from northern India and now residing in Columbus, Ohio, sends forth a new word into cyberspace every weekday. Anu is an internet engineer by day, but when he’s not computing, he’s perusing the Oxford English Dictionary.
While the World Journalism Institute does not sponsor wordsmith.org, it recognizes that for those seeking to be more articulate writers and speakers, “a word a day” is an excellent tool. Each word in a given week ties into a theme. For example, the theme for the week of July 1 was “terms coined after characters from a cartoon, novel, pop song, theater or newspaper.” On that Friday, the featured term was yellow journalism. The phrase refers to journalism that utilizes exaggeration and scandal to entice readers. Anu explained the historical background, “From the Yellow Kid, a character in a wildly popular comic Hogan’s Alley that appeared in the New York World, a newspaper owned by Joseph Pulitzer.
The Yellow Kid was the object of a circulation war between the New York World and its competitor, the New York Journal that eventually resulted in both newspapers engaging in journalistic practices characterized by hyperbole, melodrama, and even manufactured events.”
Knowing how easy it is for journalists to slip into this pitfall, WJI seeks to train students to master words, that they might write with fairness and integrity. The Master of Truth has called us to do no less.