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Daily Freeman Life Editor Ivan Lajara talks about journalism, living in the Hudson Valley, language, the Web, cats and even politics. But he shouldn't.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Four words every journalist should stop using right now

Warning: Reading this post may cause a severe outbreak of journo-nerdism.


The problem with buzzwords is that they usually have a life cycle. As they become more and more popular, they get applied and misapplied to an ever-widening cluster of concepts, making them more vague than meaningful. This prompts a backlash, and before long, the term can seem outmoded or even wrongheaded.

I'll let those thought pieces stand on their own. But while you digest them, let me introduce a not-so-new idea.

There are certain terms used in journalism circles that you don't need to be careful about using.
Journalists should simply stop using them. Now.
The reason is simple: there are simpler terms that could be used in their place. And thus, these terms are irrelevant and should die a nasty death.
Thus, let's get rid of:

TAXONOMY: First of all, what in the world are you talking about? Couldn't you use "categories" instead? WHY? WHY?
How it's used: "The taxonomy of the ever-emerging and evolving news brand verticals allow for the  monetization of content."
What this means: "We can make money with the news sections."
What you should do if someone uses the word: Squeeze lemon on their eyes.

VERTICALS: The artist formerly known as "sections."
How it's used: "Our feline content-related news vertical is generating maximum ROI and increasing our market share"
What this means: "People like sections with photos of cats online."
What you should do if someone uses the word: Put salt in their coffee.

SILOS:A closed environment or mind.
How it's used: In order for news organizations to generate innovative journalism through a healthy ecosystem, the organization must prioritize self-sustaining innovation by breaking out of silos.
What this means: Your stories are better if you are original.
What you should do if someone uses the word: Hit Ctrl+Alt+right arrow on their desktop when they're not looking.

MONETIZE: Simply put, making money. Speak English.
How it's used: "We have to develop a comprehensive and scalable strategy to package and monetize UGC."
What this means: "Hey! How can we make money with all these baby photos?"
What you should do if someone uses the word: Any one of these.

There are more, but you get the idea. And yes, I'm aware they're not going away, simply because no one is going to pay a consultant thousands of dollars to says "we need to make money with cat photos online."

It is mind-boggling that while journalists strive to make things easy to understand for their communities, they also try to make things harder to understand for themselves.
Stop it.

PS: "Buzzwurgatory" is not going to happen. :D
PS2: It's not recommended to actually do any of the 'What you should do if someone uses the word' if you are planning to keep your job.

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