Tuesday, May 17, 2011

That word again

There’s that word “infamous” again – this time in a New Zealand Herald story by political reporter Adam Bennett. And once again, it pops up in a story about Don Brash. Funny, that.

Last time (see blog post dated May 5) it was Brash’s Orewa speech in 2004 that was deemed infamous (“evil, vile, disgraceful”). This time it’s advertising man John Ansell, who created the “Iwi/Kiwi” billboards for the National Party billboards in 2005.

The Orewa speech and Iwi/Kiwi billboards may have been considered evil, vile and disgraceful by political journalists, but they were clearly in tune with public thinking. In the subsequent election, National recovered from its worst-ever thrashing at the polls to win 39 percent of the vote – just two percentage points shy of Labour.

Given that it’s obvious the public didn’t regard the Orewa speech or the billboards as evil, vile or disgraceful, what are press gallery journalists trying to say when they use the word “infamous”? Is the parliamentary press gallery really so out of step with the people who consume the news? Do political journalists know better than the voters? Or is this just another loose use of language by reporters with only a rudimentary grasp of English?

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