Commentary by Terry Anker
Does Merriam-Webster have a team of people in a dim basement somewhere determining when a generally accepted word’s definition must be replaced by one that is new and improved? Does a tweet from Kanye resurrect Babel? Or is it companies like 7-Eleven leading the charge by eliminating the pesky, if clear, small, medium and large monikers from its soft drinks instead replacing them with Big Gulps, Super Big Gulps and Double Gulps. Ranging from 30 to 50 ounces, these behemoths can account for half of a healthy adult’s daily caloric intake. Even McDonald’s starts its small at 16 ounces with a large hitting the Big Gulp’s 30 ounces.
Perhaps we do the same with many of our professions. The meaning of the words politician, journalist and educator are a bit looser today than they were not that long ago. Moreover, Newspeak and title creep has led to scores of people occupying the “c” suite, whatever that might be, to have the word “chief” affixed in front of an otherwise mundane job description.
Recently “real” CNN journalist, Christiane Amanpour, was a guest on a “faux” news interview program of a comedy television channel. The host asked her to help him understand the nuance of integrity in reporting. Ms. Amanpour matter-of-factly responded that she no longer reports in a traditional sense because to show alternate points of view to the audience might allow some viewers to come to the wrong conclusion. Therefore, instead, she simply deciphers the “truth” and reports only those things divined to be worthy of retelling. The studio audience, prompted by flashing “applause” signs, roundly approved of Ms. Amanpour’s pre-digesting of the tough bits of thought from a complex world. My truth is now your truth. And, your large is now my small.