Thursday, December 20, 2012

Academic technobabble rears its obnoxious head again, or, why a degree from the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago may now be worthless

Anyone who has been following me for a while knows that I abhor jargon and technobabble, finding them almost as loathsome as Republican ideology.

As far back as May 2007, before I even knew how to properly set up Internet links, I was railing against impenetrable prose, a spewing of obscure polysyllabic language created to exclude readers rather than to transmit ideas and stories to readers.

Now, at a time when I should be continuing to rail against guns, Republicans, and a tax for being elderly in the form of “chained CPI,” I am forced to turn my attention once again to the obnoxious spewing of unintelligible word vomit, this time from the journalism community itself.

From the Nieman Lab, which purports to be advancing the cause of good journalism, comes a statement from the woman at right. Her name is  Zizi Papacharissi. 

Ms. Papacharissi is,  despite her evident unwillingness to communicate comprehensibly, both a professor and head of the Department of Communication of the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is guilty of having published. on the Nieman Lab’s website, the following travesty
"…here is what I would like to be surprised by in 2013: The return of sentiment to news reporting, co-creating, curating. Not sentimental news, but news made better, through (yes, algorithmically generated propagation, but not redaction of) sentiment, that drives, directs, informs, and pluralizes news processes and values..."
I don’t know about the rest of the world, but my firm belief is, if you can’t avoid  resorting to pretentiously dense jargon and of-the-moment buzzwords like “curating,” you are likely trying to cover your lack of anything to say with polysyllabic logorrhea, and you deserve to have your electronic writing device smashed over your knuckles.

I think Ms. Papacharissi is talking about making news stories more emotional without letting emotion get in the way of objectivity. Nice trick if you can do it, and besides, there's really nothing new to her concerns – which may be why she tries to smother us in obfuscating language, or should I say "inscrutable semiotics?" 

The two greatest threats to the future of civilization are institutionalized ignorance on one hand, and people who write like Jacques Derrida on the other.

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