While there’s plenty to write about writering and writing and being a writer and alphabets and the wonders of typeface design and how no one really ever truly understands a writer except maybe another writer, I’m not going to write about any of that today.
Instead, I am going to share something that is newish, über cool, and ALL about words; specifically, words used in the media. It’s a site called NewsWordy and if you don’t already know about it, here’s how Very Short List describes it: “Newswordy plucks a word a day out of the news cycles, defines it, and examines its use (and misuse) in the media. Language nuts and news junkies will love it.”
The media is a catch-all term, but for our purposes, I’ll mess with a simple definition that says it’s “communications channels that distribute news, entertainment, data, etc.” I think this is a case where the meaning and the function of the word has gotten away from the definition, but more about that another time. The media happens to be full of writers of all sorts: journalists, columnists, reporters. Over the years, a good number of media types moved into PR and communications and helped to evolve to higher and higher levels that whole branch of pseudo-language known as corporatespeak.
Media literacy is crucial today, since there’s more media, more people writing, and a public that’s not inclined to think deeply about what the media is presenting, including the words that the media use. Those words are often quite deliberate, on message and insidious. Words create a frame for seeing and thinking in the same way that a camera viewfinder does. (See Chomsky and media concision, but ignore Chomsky’s premise on the origin of language).
While the media aspect of the site is interesting, it’s the word part that’s the real gem.
The entire site is elegant. The design is easy, the type is perfect and UI (user interface) of it brilliant and simple. My thought at first seeing it was what a great writing prompt site, if not for the word, then for the colour — no offence to people who do not see colours. And the archive of words are presented in BIG, BOLD, and BEAUTIFUL sans serif type. <swoon> Okay, so my slight modernist style bias is showing, but it is gorgeous.
Oh, and it’s designed by a Canadian. (Go Canada!!)
Now, it’s true that words often drift away from their original meaning, at least in English, the language where the words sick, murder, killed have evolved on certain colloquial streets and music cultures to be used as words of praise. It’s not clear how Newswordy will manage that, but it’s always good to level set the understanding, and ask, is this what they mean when they used that word?