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Careful Wording

"For reasons of tone, likewise, don't refer to serious accidents as mishaps. A man twisting his ankle stepping off a curb has a mishap; if a car hits him and he's paralyzed from the waist down, it's an accident. The word incident also suggests something of small consequence, a peripheral event--say, a picket line scuffle. A shootout in which several are hurt or killed is more than an incident."
~page 52 of Rene J. Cappon's The Associated Press Guide to News Writing

This reminded me of what we talked about in class--the difference between assault and battery. It just goes to show that word choice is crucial to this form of writing, possibly even more so than others. At least with other forms of writing a misunderstanding won't be that big of a deal. The intended meaning may not come through, but no one is hurt by it. With news writing, however, a small misunderstanding can make all the difference. As stated in class, the wrong wording can potentially cause a guilty person to walk away without punishment.

In the case of tone, as this chapter discusses, the wrong word can also turn off the reader. Choosing a flippant word when covering a solemn story just isn't appropriate.
I guess this is just something that we need to be careful with for numerous reasons.

Other Thoughts on Cappon Ch 6 & 8

Comments (2)

Derek Tickle:

Great connection with news writing vocab and real life! I never thought about the words accident compared to incident. These words are exactly like what we learned in class about battery and assualt. Just imagine if someone wrote that there was an incident down the street where five cars piled up and one person died on their way to the hospital. I would be shocked if I was a family member reading this article and it said that the event was an incident because it definately would have been an accident.

Derek Tickle:

Your article made me think about how Words are Worth a Million Words

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