Wednesday, April 27, 2011

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Cameron Scheetz

As journalists, words are our greatest weapons. By it's very nature, or work is always on display for the public; everyone can see it and we like it that way. The problem with having a mass audience is that we must be careful what we write. Though we may not see a certain word or phrase as harmful, there is a possibility that there is another race, gender, religion, ethnicity, etc... that may take offense to it. As Peter Parker's Uncle Ben once said: "With great power comes great responsibility."

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As pointed out by the Undocumented or Illegal? article from AJR, we can never be too careful when choosing words. A phrase common within our vernacular, such as "illegal immigrant," can be considered derogatory or even dehumanizing by other cultures (the "illegal immigrant" label has been the focus of a lot of debate lately. Luckily, there are websites out there to help us use the correct terminology). Often times we use loaded words which, though seemingly "PC" to us, may be construed differently by someone with a different background. If we want to be perceived as fair and serious journalists, we must be sure that we are writing objectively.

It seems, as of late, that many people have been been concerned with making sure we, as journalists, remain "politically correct." As this article points out, there is a long line of words that we use on a day-to-day basis to describe others that have actually become somewhat taboo to use. This article also calls attention to the fact that many people see being "PC" a very liberal idea. While conservatives may believe that liberals "have their hearts in the right place," they feel that they are taking the argument too far.

Most recently, a Seattle school has been under scrutiny for changing the term "Easter Eggs" to "Spring Spheres." As the story points out, the name change does not keep the students from acknowledging them in the traditional manner. In the eyes of these FOX news reporters, the term "Spring Spheres" is more offensive to Christians than "Easter Egg" ever was to non-Christians.

As our society becomes more globalized, we have to open our minds. As we begin to cover more diverse events and people, our scope widens and we must be more aware of how the things we say can affect others. To me, the best way to keep things "PC" is to always know your audience and to be cautious and smart in your writing. Of course, you cannot let your self stress about it too much; as journalists, we know know that you can never please everybody.

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