Letter from the Editor: An err in wording

Avaerie Fitzgerald, COLLEGIAN MANAGING EDITOR

Some say to err on the side of caution is the safest way to live one’s life. It prevents blunders and upset, calms the crowds, and soothes one’s own mind.

A common blunder is the misstep that some take when in a hurry. Rushed words can often result in wrong phrases and alternate meanings, thus creating confusion.

From the standpoint of a journalist, the headline and first sentence (or lede) links the reader to a feeling of intrigue. The feeling of needing to read something based on the first impression is powerful and draws readers to choosing certain stories over others, but also deters others from reading because of the clickbait nature of certain outlets.

This causes student journalists to reevaluate the way we write. No one likes a repeat of national blunders and clickbait stories.

These mistakes allow us to build skills and hopefully allows the public to regain trust and confidence that a story is as it says it is and nothing less.

Disappointment is the ultimate deterrence, and we need readers just as much as the readers need us. Accurate information prevents hurt and panic.

From the reader’s perspective, the best steps to take for evaluating whether something is true or not is to read further through the article (or text) and see if there is a word or phrase that reveals the true reason of the story. The subject is meant to catch attention, but never to cause panic.

Wording is important.

Over the last year, everyone has been subject to the now common headlines which cry “crisis, pandemic, terrorism, fraud.” These phrases, while some may be true, desensitize readers to the meaning behind the words.

In nature, those words resemble something that should never happen, but if it is to happen, it is astonishing. No one expects it.

Looking at “pandemic,” we now think immediately of our current state in dealing with COVID-19. Seeing it is now expected and mundane, so words like “crisis” are thrown in to capture interest again.

Seeing these words and understanding the meaning behind them intensifies the read and makes known what condition the nation is in. The world is currently dealing with a pandemic.

When words are thrown in to push fear into the individual reader, is how blunders are created.

Before assuming, make sure the title accurately reflects the article. Before posting, find a story which informs without instilling fear and tells facts as they are, not what they could be.

Read texts in full to have guaranteed understanding, otherwise it may sound like there is a mass outbreak of COVID-19 at Ashland University on our hands.