, 2023-01-08 12:00:00
With a single sentence, Brooks Barnes changed journalism forever, or at least the way I look at it.
Barnes is a reporter for The New York Times. He covers the movie industry, and recently, he wrote that movies that seem destined for Oscar consideration are doing unusually poorly at the box office.
What startled me and shook my world was this sentence: “Most studios either declined to comment for this article or provided anodyne statements about being proud of the prestige dramas they have recently released, regardless of ticket sales.”
It was those three words that got me, “provided anodyne statements” — “anodyne” meaning bland and inoffensive.
Of course the studios provided dull and anodyne statements. That is what corporations do. But I always thought it was my job as a reporter to quote them, no matter how ridiculous they are.
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Public relations flacks tend to use a great many words to say nothing at all. They use a language that some of us call PR-ese. We laugh at it, but then we feel obligated to use their quotes in our stories so they keep coming back with more.
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