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Evil Twin Skippy's Shit List

Journalism is a discipline in communication. Unfortunately, it is a field populated by people who tend to take shortcuts, use cliches, and make up words.

I may seem like I am picking nits, but the whole point of communication is to have a standard frame of meanings for the symbols. Journalists, as professional communicators, should take the time to actually learn what terms are, and what they mean, before they go off and invent new ones.

330 Feet

Yes, 330 feet is a perfectly valid measurement, but when you encounter it a news article you know someone didn't do their homework. Example:

The assailent triggered the bomb from a bunker 330 feet away from the blast

You have to ask yourself, did the eye witnesses take a tape measure, or pace off the distance? No. They said "oh, it was about 100 meters" and the journalist duely ran the guestimate through a unit conversion. Really fellas, 100 yards would usually substitute well for 100 meters for most off the cuff estimates.

Or at the very least, lop off 30 from the estimate and go with a nice round "300 feet". You don't gain precision by changing the unit.

Anonymous Sources

Example the source, who requested to be anonymous because of grand jury's secrecy, .... Every reporter seems to think he/she is the next Woodward or Bernstien. In truth, the reporter is neglecting the first of the 5 W's of reporting: WHO.

Perhaps I expect too much of the media, but how am I supposed to evaluate the veracity of the story if I can't tell where the reporter got it from? It would be one thing if these stories were major events that required years of investigative reporting. But nowadays you find Anonymous sources in stories that are little more than Gossip. With headlines like 'Special prosecuter MAY X' or 'Congressional Panel Considering Y'.

Let me break it down: when you hear 'Source who requested anonymity' it is one of 2 things: A political sock puppet OR Senator X's press secretary's hairdresser's boyfriend.


A conspirator is one who works with you, generally in a nefarious persuit. I guess the news folks wanted to reinforce the point and started adding the additional co to the front of it. Really folks, just one is enough.

high-caliber rifle

The high-caliber rifle is an invention by the news media. Bullets are propelled by a chemical explosion that can be of high-power or low-power.

Caliber is the bore diameter in decimal-inches. You could theoretically refer to a gun with a wide barrel as large-caliber. From my time at aberdeen proving grounds, large caliber is generally a tank round.

Snipers use a range of bullet diameters, some of them up to 0.50 caliber. While that is large-caliber for a rifle, it is peanuts compared to an artillery piece. The also tend to use high-power ammunition to travel long distances.

So you can have high or low power and large or small caliber. But high-caliber is nonsense unless, perhaps, you are referring to the fine workmanship that went into it.

(Thank you to Brad Shephard who corrected an earlier misunderstanding of mine on the subject.)


Insite does not exists. You either mean:
  • insight: (n) inwardly looking
  • incite: (v) to provoke (i.e. to incite a riot.)


Irregardless is a double negative. If you are trying to say "without regard to" the right word to use is regardless. I have never heard a literate person use irregard, the proper term is disregard.


Well, I'm drifting out of pure journalism an into pop-psych. The official definition of metacognition is the process of thinking about the act of thinking. Anything further is mental masterbation.


The plural of virus is viruses. Folks ocassionally try to sound suave and use a latin style pluralization. (WHAM) bad.

Report other abominations of the english language you see on the web to Sean

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