Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Way with Words

At my job, there are a number of flat screen tvs that are set to, primarily, different news stations. This is ostensibly so that folks can keep an eye on the stock market, but that's not what I watch.

You see, on CNN, in addition to running whatever news story that they are running, they have a little ticker on the bottom that gives brief news stories in 5 or 6 words. Due to how little space there is, this can get a little dicey, as I realized when I saw the following headline:

"Headline: Obama becomes our 44th, 1st black President."

Our 44th, 1st black President? Ie, our 44th black President? I'm pretty sure that that's what should be the news on the main screen, as I'm certain most of the country thinks that the 43 preceeding Presidents have been white men.

The way they worded it reminds me of that Panther cologne from Anchorman, that had the tag line "60% of the time it works every time." That's good work, CNN. Keep up the roundabout Anchorman references.

3 comments:

Buttercup said...

Since something like 90% of communication is visual, when it's done in person, a raised eyebrow, pregnant pause, or facial expression can convey so much that people can usually decipher your meaning even if you stumble over your words a bit or don't express thoughts as eloquently as you could. But in written communication, little slips stick out like a sore thumb - which can, as your post noted, can drastically alter the meaning. I should send my English teacher-y response directly to CNN & see if we can clean up these news stories. I think it's my duty as a responsible citizen...

Analyst Catalyst said...

I concur; there are few people who really take their citizenly duties seriously.

Btw, excellent analysis on communication; you make a lot of excellent points.

P.S.: please excuse the fragment in my first clause of my second sentence in this comment.

Buttercup said...

LOL! Actually, I know I'm preaching to the choir w/ my review. Being an actor makes you pretty comfortable with the art of verbal & nonverbal communication.