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.