We all get caught up in buzzwords – those terms that become fashionable. Sometimes they are used in your line of work.
Our job in the news business is to call things as they are and to avoid buzzwords as much as we can. But sometimes you can't get around them, especially when they become part of proper names.
Here are some examples:
Country club: You hardly find any golf courses called that anymore. Country clubs are seen as exclusive, so many dropped "country club" from their names. A year ago, I wrote a story that referred to a country club, which is what it was called in Google maps. After the story appeared on our website, the golf course manager called to correct my story. It had changed its name from country club a few years earlier. So what's the reason behind the relatively recent surge in name changes at golf courses? Perhaps it's because of the greater number of golf courses that are competing for fewer golfers. They want more customers, and "country club" isn't so welcoming.
After Sheri Jesiel was sworn in as a state representative for northern Lake County recently, her predecessor, JoAnn Osmond, announced a reception would be held afterward at Midlane Country Club in Wadsworth. Before I wrote my story, I checked the name. It was once called a country club, but now it's named Midlane Championship Golf Resort. So that's what I called it, avoiding a call from Midlane.
Nursing home: For some reason, no one likes to call their nursing homes, well, nursing homes. In Lake County, their names now include "retirement village" or "healthcare and rehabilitation," among other things. They are still listed as nursing homes on the state Department of Public Health's website. And they still provide 24-hour care. But they are no longer burdened with the apparently hideous term "nursing home."
Area: This word, I find, is used more often in writing. I know I've used it. But it's usually the result of laziness. In a Google search, I found a radio story from Ohio saying that gas prices have been declining "in the Illinois area." A story about snakes in Naperville noted that "residents in the Illinois area remain nervous." Illinois is not an area; it's a state.
We see the word "area" used in the names of government bodies, likely to appease taxpayers outside the town. I understand the Round Lake Area Schools' name because it covers the four Round Lake villages. But do we really need that extra word in Wauconda Area Library and Grayslake Area Public Library? Adding such wiggle words just makes proper names longer.
And what about the Wauconda Area Pageant? Do we really have to call the winner "Miss Wauconda Area"? Perhaps we could have a "Miss Illinois Area."
Content: Even in our business, we have buzzwords. The one that I've noticed in recent times is "content." That's used in place of the more familiar "stories." I asked a colleague who has been in the business for 30 years whether he heard the word "content" used in place of "stories" in his first years. "Never," he responded.
When I worked at Walmart years ago, the manager told employees at a meeting that he no longer wanted us to use the word "freight" for the products we put on shelves. He preferred "merchandise." He had a point. What customer is going to call the stuff they buy "freight"? Virtually none. They're more likely to refer to it as merchandise.
The same thing goes for us in the newspaper business. Readers call the things we write stories. Shouldn't we? But since newspaper bosses are using the word "content" more often, I guess I'll have to grin and bear it.
David Giuliani is news editor of Lake County Suburban Life. He may be reached at 847-231-7524 or firstname.lastname@example.org.