The Executive editor on the word ‘Torture’

The Executive Editor on the Word ‘Torture’
By DEAN BAQUET AUGUST 7, 2014 5:08 PMAugust 7, 2014 10:18 pm 85 Comments

Credit Gretchen Ertl for The New York Times
Dean Baquet is the executive editor of The Times.

Over the past few months, reporters and editors of The Times have debated a subject that has come up regularly ever since the world learned of the C.I.A.’s brutal questioning of terrorism suspects: whether to call the practices torture. Continue reading

Scott Morrison, the minister of truth

Scott Morrison, the minister of truth

Scott Morrison’s abuse of language ties the asylum-seeker debate in Orwellian knots.
In 1988, the British journalist Christopher Hitchens went to Prague. He had one aim: to be the first visiting writer not to mention Franz Kafka. Then he was arrested. When he asked why he was being detained, he was told he didn’t need to know. His story ended up mentioning Kafka after all.

Here is a similar exercise: write about the linguistic bastardisation of the Australian refugee debate without referring to George Orwell. You can try, but the facts will get the better of you in the end.

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Environment commissioner Kate Auty quits, drops bucket

Environment commissioner Kate Auty quits, drops bucket
March 6, 2014
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Tom Arup
Environment editor, The Age

Victoria’s environment commissioner has quit and hit out at the Napthine government’s attitude on climate change, saying bureaucrats told her they were directed to refrain from even using the term. Continue reading

Let’s call a cull, a cull

Let’s call a cull, a cull


As the unpopular shark bait and shoot program continues in Western Australia, fisheries minister Troy Buswell has defended the policy, saying that it isn’t a cull, but a ‘localised shark mitigation strategy’. Lochlan Morrissey suspects Buswell learned the art of political euphemism from the best. Continue reading

Stuck amid hell with you

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Stuck in amid hell with you
The word ‘amid’ is scarcely used at all in spoken or written English. Why, then, is it so popular with journalists?
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Amid, among, a muddle. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
“Hi, Brian! Where’s Sophie?”

“Sophie and I have split up amid rumours of an affair.”

“Why are you talking like that?”

“This conversation comes amid revelations that I’ve landed a job as a subeditor.”

Obviously, the exchange above never took place, because no one talks like that. (If they did, you could be forgiven for putting your fist amid their face.) More to the point, no one writes like that; except, it would seem, people of news. Continue reading

The 10 most overused business words

The 10 most overused business words
December 9, 2013
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Kate Jones
Best practice, synergies, dovetail – does anyone really know what these words mean?

Jack Ellis doesn’t believe in weasel words.
Weasel words, spin words or buzz words. Whatever you call them, they irritate the hell out of us.

Like any other industry, business has its own jargon. Words like “synergistic” and phrases such as “touching base” are now common corporate speak.
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