I’ve been annoyed by the foreign language section of the TV news for some time, and it’s getting worse. “Foreign language section” I hear you say, “which channel are you watching?” BBC, SkyNews, ITN it doesn’t matter, they all have this; many times recently it has been the headlines. I’m talking about the financial news. Why ‘foreign language’? Because they use words that I don’t know the meaning of. Am I the only one with this problem?
I hear other people, ordinary people like me, using the words quite freely. The barman at my local will ask me if I’ve seen what happened to the dow or the footsie today. He is intimately aware of every intricate movement, up, down and sideways of everything from the US dollar to the Uzbekistan som. Even though he personally owns no shares, he’s been brainwashed into the belief that stock market indices are indicators of some pending disaster or remarkable recovery.
And why has it got worse recently? Because in the current financial crisis there seems to be a competition to find words and phrases to describe the situation in hyperbolic terms – crisis is no longer enough, ‘meltdown’ and ‘cataclysmic’ are invoked; more like gobbledegook every day.
Dare I suggest that when it comes to economics most people are like those who wouldn’t admit that the ‘king has got no clothes on’. In ‘most people’ I include those giving us the information across the airwaves.
So here’s a plea to the media. Be realistic (this seems to be a rude word nowadays), forget the jargon, and do the job you’re supposed to do; explain what is happening in words that we (and you!) understand. A lot of people will thank you for it (at least I will).