Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/1/2008 (3409 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Despite their relentless, rah-rah public relations machines, governments do a laughably bad job of telling people about all the nice things they do.To wit: The press release. The daily missives are laboured over, tweaked and fussed with endlessly by a dozen government staffers. Soooo much effort for so little clarity.Health press releases are particularly brutal, I find. Earlier this week, I spent the better part of a morning at a press conference at HSC trying to figure out how much money Ottawa is spending on what the heck kind of aboriginal health research. I wandered from government official to doctor to PR person asking for some plain-language clarification. I listened to the 45 minutes of speeches. I read the pile of press releases several times. I tried to decipher all the acronyms and jargon and vague words. I still don't really get it.And today the province put out a press release touting a plan to help new local video game companies get more business. How could a bunch of techno-hipsters - basically the city's coolest people - be boring and pedantic and impenetrable? Here's how:"...market research and development of an alternative reality game prototype and six-episode Internet protocol television (IPTV) series." "An incubator is a facility designed to encourage entrepreneurship and minimize obstacles to new business formation and development, particularly for high-technology firms, by housing a number of budding enterprises that share an array of services such as rent and business counselling."
The last word goes to George Orwell, writing more than 60 years ago:"Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one's own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase -- some jackboot, Achilles' heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of verbal refuse -- into the dustbin, where it belongs. "