Wednesday, August 26, 2009

VARIETY-speak Advances (or does it?)

Last February I felt it was worth taking the time to write about the adoption of Variety-speak by Reuters when variants of "finmin" started to replace "finance minister" in their headlines. At the time I suggested that, since Variety seemed to be suffering as much as any other print medium, its writers may have been jumping ship to Reuters; and we were getting our first taste of what happens when an entertainment reporter takes over a political beat. Well, today the trend seems to have spread to the BBC NEWS Web site. This morning I encountered the following headline about the Latin American economy:
Latam exports 'worst in 70 years'
However, I now have an alternative to my Variety hypothesis (which had been initially proposed with some sense of the facetious). My new hypothesis is that these headlines are a product of the Twitter Age, in which we are all suddenly counting our characters to keep them within a restricted limit. The BBC now has a site for mobile-oriented content; and the option for communication with them through SMS has been around for some time. Presumably, it is only a matter time before Tweeting catches up with (and probably overtakes) texting. In the meantime news sources, such as Reuters and the BBC, see value in communicating headlines as Tweets; and presumably they want those same headlines to appear on their full Web pages to facilitate easy recognition. I suppose it will not be long until the Doonesbury vision of the reporter filing copy as an ongoing stream of Tweets becomes reality.

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