Words (should) matter

I’m a stickler for using the “right” words for things. I’m sure I get it wrong myself, especially when speaking, but I try. There are a few things that I find particularly bothersome (perhaps because of their widespread use). Students I mentor have to deal with my routine correction of them, and they often pick the “incorrect” usage just to tease me, which is fun, but the poor usage bothers me when it’s not an attempt at humor. This is, admittedly, pedantic in some respects, but I think it matters, and I’ll explain why, after describing some of these nuisances.

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Am I (still) biased racist?

In the early days of this blog/diary/outlet (whatever it is), I wrote something about implicit bias. The post was titled “Am I biased?” and that serves as the basis for the title of today’s thoughts. My morning ride isn’t very long. I work about six miles from home and don’t hit much traffic on the way. In the past, my morning radio routine was remarkably predictable: NPR’s Morning Edition. Although I haven’t reduced my obsession with politics in the past year, it has taken a toll on me in ways that it hadn’t before, so I’ve spent more of my mornings listening to music, or even listening to the banter of morning radio on top 40 or rock stations. It’s a bit lighter (usually)Cleveland_Indians_logo.svg, and gets my day started on a better note. This morning was an NPR morning, and a story about the Cleveland Indians got me thinking.

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The biased media

Is the media biased? A question that many have asked, and that probably more assume can be answered “yes” without giving it much thought. I’ve generally felt that people have many biases (I certainly do, as I wrote about here), but that strong journalistic integrity helps prevent those biases from affecting reporting as much as possible. Of course we face a world of 24-hour news cycles that fill the time with editorial, that gets confused with news, but for the most part, I think the news does a reasonably good job at staying objective (a few outlets, like FoxNews are exceptions to my view on this). WNYC’s On the Media had a great episode about liberal bias in NPR news (click here). This story, and many other analyses, left me pretty firmly convinced that the charges of media bias are largely overstated (again, this does not include “news” outlets and websites that have a clear agenda). This election cycle has caused me to question my view.

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