All posts by nbense

Boy Scouts to accept girls, catch up with the rest of the world

It was refreshing to learn this week that the Boys Scouts of America organization intends to integrate girls into cub scout packs, and eventually create a path for young women to become eagle scouts.

There are still parts of the plan that could be better. Continue reading Boy Scouts to accept girls, catch up with the rest of the world

Words to live by…or maybe not!

I was reminded of my 3rd grade teacher the other day while reading a Time article about 15 words we should all be cutting from our vocabulary.

I’ve read articles like it before, reminding us to lay off such crutch words such as “actually,” “literally,” and the sort. It’s information that’s good to keep in mind -after all, we’re all guilty of using certain words too often.

But the story stuck out for another reason. It took me back to the classroom of Miss Elizabeth Tice at Scribner Road Elementary School in Penfield, N.Y.

Miss Tice also wanted us to stop using the same words over and over. So much so in fact, she wrote out a list of banned words and stuck them to a plastic tomb stone that hung next to the door.

We joked about it at the time, but the thing is – I still remember every one of those words. I can recall them in my head with the same sing-song delivery we used in class when we had to recite them.

  • Nice
  • Good
  • Little
  • Things
  • Sad
  • Big
  • Stuff
  • Brung

Okay, so the last one isn’t a real word, but in 3rd grade some needed to be reminded of that. And while I am still guilty of using some of them, the reason for the list was never lost on me.

We are blessed with many words in the English language, each with their own nuanced meaning. Therefore, we should choose them carefully to ensure we are writing and speaking with greater impact.

Newspaper Publishes Offensive Facebook Post

Journalism is a tough business.  Reporters, editors, photographers, producers, and so many others work hard day in and day out to put out a quality product.  Words and images are chosen carefully, and facts are delicately presented to show a fair and objective account of the day’s news.  In smaller markets especially, there is a constant effort to earn and maintain the trust of the audience through tasteful reporting.

That’s why a Facebook post from the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle Wednesday came as such a shock.  It was a link to a national story about a Muslim teen from Texas who was arrested after bringing a homemade digital clock to school.  He hopes to be an engineer and wanted to show his teacher what he made.  Instead he was arrested after the school claimed he brought the object to school as a bomb threat.  Police have since announced the teen, Ahmed Mohamed, will not be charged.  He has since been invited to Facebook, NASA, the White House by President Obama.

So how did the D&C tease the story on Facebook?  “Allllllah-hu-clockbar.”clock comment

The story is essentially about the dangers of racial profiling and stereotypes, and this reputable newspaper invented a stereotypical sounding name – with a play on words – to get more clicks.  It’s a recent trend.  Last week, for a story about the dismal first day attendance rate for Rochester city schools, a Facebook post by the same paper read “Fail.”  I agree.  It was a “Fail” – especially for the D&C.

The Democrat & Chronicle has always prided itself on serving the community.  And rightly so.  Its editorial board and reporters work tirelessly to serve as a watchdog for our community.  They hold leaders accountable, and help lead the conversation on how to make Rochester a better place to call home.  This is an excerpt straight from their website:

“Backed by decades of experience and relentless dedication, our team of professionals work diligently to uphold the highest standards, providing Rochester’s most trusted sources for news and information.”

It’s pretty clear the paper fell short of those standards this week – not in its reporting, but on social media.  Sadly, not everyone will see the difference.  The clock comment attracted several negative comments from readers on the D&C’s Facebook page.  Editors did eventually acknowledge the misstep, responding with a stock message: “We removed the post linking to the Ahmed Mohamed story. We regret the wording and tone of the comment accompanying the post.”

Hopefully this was a lesson that sinks in.  These are still difficult times for newspapers, and many have adopted a more edgy presentation online to attract younger readers.  That’s fine, but there’s always a time and a place.  Sometimes it’s best to just stick to the facts.