The vocabulary of news goes Germanic

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The English language, it would appear, lacks the vocabularly to describe some of the massive changes engulfing media. So, stealing a trick from the Germans, people are squishing words together to capture bigger concepts.

One of my favourites is ‘infobesity’, coined by Anthony Lilley in his inaugural lecture as the News International Visiting Professor of Broadcast Media. “We live in an age of infobesity” he told his Oxford students. “Information overload. Too much choice. You can’t stop it – as even the Chinese are finding – by building virtual walls any more. The behaviour of players on the network is simply too massive, chaotic and connected to give you a chance. Fighting it is like bailing a sinking boat with a spoon.”

Better than Cass Sunstein’s ‘infotopia’ (the title of his recent book about the power of networks) and superseding the concept of ‘infotainment’, ‘infobesity’ is both inventive and topical. Maybe it’ll catch on.

As might Nick Davies’ ‘churnalism’ (see previous blog) – the process of taking agency copy or PR material and ‘churning’ it into an article or news package. Needless to say, when using it in his new book, Flat Earth News, Davies is not being complimentary.

And in the spirit of word squishing I’ll throw in ‘infocycling‘ – the endless recyling of information content on the web. Copying and pasting photos from one site to another, grabbing chunks of text or slices of video.

Anyone got any more?

Written by Martin Moore

January 29th, 2008 at 10:39 am

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