NPR's Mark Memmott On 'Fighting Words' | KERA News

NPR's Mark Memmott On 'Fighting Words'

Nov 28, 2014

The topic for this week’s Friday Conversation is the militarization of language. KERA’s vice president of news, Rick Holter, goes into the trenches with Mark Memmott, standards and practices editor for NPR.

Interview Highlights: Mark Memmott  

…on why reporting politics seems to demand militarized language: “Well a lot of news organizations seem to only be able to tell the story if they put it in very simple terms and the simplest terms sometimes are that there is one side that wants A, the other side that wants B and they are fighting over it and they could never come to some sort of a truce to use another term and settle on anything, there’s no compromise in there. So it’s a simple way to tell the story, can be a very effective and compelling way to tell a story, but it can also be repetitive and listeners, readers, they  can pretty tired of that language.”

…on why he’s worried about the surge in militaristic language: “Number one, I just worry that we’re turning off some of the audience. But also, our job, the media’s job is to be clear, to be factual. We don’t want to be boring, but we also want to present things in context and very often when we reach for the easy cliché we’re not giving the context, we’re not telling the full story. And I happen to believe that an informed electorate is a good thing, and part of our job is to inform.”

…on whether this is just a media problem: “I think it’s wider than that. I think as a culture we sort of come to be used to that language. We’re certainly used to it when it comes to sports. We’re very comfortable if you will, but I have to think there’s a case to be made we cheapen the real wars and the people who have put their lives on the line for this country, or for other countries.”