Mark Terry

Monday, July 16, 2012

Alleged

July 16, 2012
I was listening to an NPR piece on what should or will be done to punish Penn State for turning their heads while Jerry Sandusky molested children. The reporter pointed out that the NCAA rarely kills a sports program - they've done it something like 3 times over 60 years. And then further pointed out that Penn State's "crime" was basically a one-shot deal, although it "allegedly lasted for ten years."

To which I muttered, "What was alleged about it?"

I mean, Jerry Sandusky has been tried and convicted, right? The abuses and the time frames are very clearly laid out, right? There's nothing alleged about it, as far as I can see.

I'm rather sensitive to the use of "alleged" or "allegedly" in the media. They use it whenever describing a criminal or any sort of accusation. But it seems to me that the media has gotten so timid about just calling someone a criminal, that "alleged" has become a lazy form of writing, the way we might say "a sort of lazy form of writing." No "sort of" about it.

It's easy to get into that sort of sloppy, lazy approach in your writing. And speaking. And thinking. And apparently the media is doing it as well ("apparently" is lazy, "perhaps?"). They're waffling. I just waffled. I said "apparently," which is common in my essay writing. I assume it's a way for me to back off from being pinned down on saying something controversial (I almost said "fairly" controversial, which is "probably" wishy-washy, too).

What say you?

5 Comments:

Blogger Eric said...

The media today is too cowardly(or lazy) to even dare to separate the truth from lies. They just transcribe what people say and report it as news. If the media were honest, half the stories about politicians wouldn't be their talking points but rather that they were lying again. The Penn State affair really is stomach turning isn't it? I'm a sport fan but it makes no sense for institutions that are supposed to be about learning to be minting millions off what are essentially professional sports. Where is the relationship? Let football and basketball run minor leagues, like baseball does, for aspiring athletes.

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Stan R. Mitchell said...

You make a great point, but I know the media (speaking as one of them) is more worried than ever.

The days of plenty of money to defend against lawsuits are gone, and they always teach us that you still have to be careful after someone is convicted because what if it's thrown out on appeal? Or, maybe new DNA evidence emerges at some point? (Or some kind of new science like DNA that comes out twenty years from now?)

But your greater point is dead on. We all are guilty of saying things in a way that let us wiggle out from controversial statements!

10:44 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Without wandering too far afield, I wish universities would just admit that they're in the business of running a minor league program for the NFL. They don't do that with other sports so much (probably hockey and maybe basketball), but with football it's so blatant and there's so much money involved it's crazy.

The reporter in the NPR story did point out that universities pay coaches $5 million a year and let them get away with anything because they bring so much money into the university.

10:48 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Stan,
I'm sure fear of litigation is a big part of it. My ears always prick up when I hear someone use "alleged" but in this particular story, since it was post-conviction, I was more puzzled than usual. Unless they were really being intellectual and referring to some sort of investigation into the university itself, as opposed to the conviction of Jerry Sandusky. Or perhaps, with the NCAA decision pending, they felt "alleged" would do until that august decision-making body had had its say.

10:50 AM  
Anonymous Barbara Stoner said...

In my first mss. my heroine "seemed" to do so many things, I finally wrote a review for myself: "Ms. Stoner seems to have wanted to write a novel, but we're not certain she ever actually got around to it." I still catch myself doing it - I relate it to a fear of commitment - but then I go back and take them out. Just do the damned thing, why doncha?

4:11 PM  

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