Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Always and never

Here are two words I'd like eliminated from the dictionary: always and never.

People carelessly toss around those words in a manner that suggests something definitive and clear cut, when it's not necessarily so.

"The Freeman never covers the town of Ulster anymore," a Kingston Community Radio host declared the other day.

Of course we cover the town of Ulster. Do we do so as much as in the golden days when we had more reporters to spread around the region? No. The economics of the daily newspaper business (in Kingston and elsewhere) sadly dictate otherwise. But, never cover the town of Ulster? Nonsense.

Here's another one - same radio program, different host: "The Freeman never does in-depth reporting." Which Freeman? Not the one we publish, the one with front-page space on Sunday and Monday regularly set aside for such stories and features. Again, do we do as much in-depth reporting as we'd like? We don't. What newspaper does, particularly as publications from The New York Times to the Podunk Times shed staff due to the bad economy?

Here's a popular one: "The Freeman always supports (fill in the political party; we've heard it applied to Democrats and Republicans)." And, of course, that's the point. Democrats think we support Republicans, Republicans think we support Democrats and so on. Always one or the other? Obviously not.

When you hear always and never, be wary. An "exaggeration alert" sometimes is in order.
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