Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Have you noticed the tendency for lazy journalism when it comes to a difference of opinion? Two examples from yesterday.

Oscar Pistorius, the guy with the artificial legs who has been told he cannot compete against able bodied athletes because his false limbs are better than real ones when it comes to running, is, apparently, continuing the fight to be allowed to compete, according to many versions of the story yesterday on radio, TV and in the papers. In fact his agent made the perfectly reasonable statement that all he was trying to do was to be allowed to compete against real opposition since he was so much faster than other disabled runners. He will, in all probability, appeal against the order to make sure it is the end of the road, but he never, as far as I can see, started the metaphor of this being a fight.

The same language was used in the 'war' between the recommencing News at Ten and the BBC ten o'clock news. It's a fight. It's head to head. Er, no it isn't. It's two TV programmes seeking the same audience. No more, no less.

When we describe polarised opinion we do well to search for analogies, images, metaphors and ideas that convey the truth without setting the problem up as a battle. Two different and opposite views are often better reconciled (finding a third way) than compromised (both lose a bit). This is easier if people do not feel they have to win a scrap.

I blame the Beastie Boys, fighting for their right to party. Let's try and change. Do give me a telling off if I slip.

1 comment:

Matthew P said...

I used to work for a US consultancy type company where talked much about "win-win" situations with our clients. Dreadful expression that still makes me cringe, but the principle was great. There doesn't always need to be a winner and a loser, sometimes everyone can benefit.