Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
In plain English
In my old office in the Manitoba Legislature, a colleague and I used to keep a running list of words and phrases we really wished politicians and bureaucrats would stop using.
They included things such as go-forward basis, stakeholders and community-level.
Words and phrases which are so boring and devoid of meaning they can induce a sudden nap just by their very utterance.
They were usually gleaned from news releases and press conferences and added to the list in fits of frustration as we tried to turn bureaucrat-speak into stories people might find interesting.
In journalism we’re taught to use the simplest words possible, and not take six words to say what you could say in just one. It often seems politicians and bureaucrats are given the opposite orders. Crowd them with meaningless jargon, bore them to tears and maybe they won’t notice that we just overspent our budget by a gazillion dollars or that we actually have no plans to do anything on this file.
Hence the reason this story made me shudder and giggle at the same time today.
Maybe we just need to have some more idea showers so we can come to a memorandum of understanding that we will never utter phrases and words which make one want to jab pencils into their eyeballs.
More Capital Chronicles
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About Mia Rabson
Mia Rabson is a born and bred Winnipegger whose interest in politics seemed clear when she dressed up as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for Halloween in the 7th grade.
Her interest in writing was no surprise to her parents, who learned early in Mia’s life that no piece of blank paper — or wall, for that matter — was safe in her hands.
She holds an honours BA in English from Queen’s University, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, and has completed a political journalism fellowship in Washington, D.C. with the Washington Centre for Politics and Journalism.
Prior to working for the Winnipeg Free Press, Mia briefly worked for the Detroit News in the paper’s Washington bureau.
Mia joined the Free Press team in February 2001, and in April 2001 was appointed to the Manitoba legislature bureau. In December 2004, she was appointed bureau chief at the legislature. She became the newspaper’s parliamentary bureau chief/national reporter in Ottawa in January 2008.
In 2008 she was nominated for a Michener Award with a team of reporters from the Free Press for its coverage of the province’s child welfare system.
She counts reliving the invasion at Dieppe, France, with veterans of the failed Second World War expedition and overcoming her fear of heights to touch the Golden Boy statue atop the Legislative Building among her favourite experiences as a reporter.
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