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The weight of words, the weight of history

Probably just by reading the title of this editorial, most people will already be able to guess what it will be about (“Oh, not another lecture about the importance of using our words carefully!”)—which is, in itself, a testament to the power that language has over people. We can dream, build, and destroy profoundly with words if we use them well enough…or, for that matter, if we fail to.

Perhaps the experience of working for a newspaper has affected how we at The Concordian view our responsibilities with language. But then, as Phil Graham said, the news is “the first rough draft of history”: a heavy charge. The people of the future will judge our society not just by the things that are reported, but by the way in which they are reported, because the very language that we choose to use betrays deep truths about how we live. Words matter because they can shape perceptions at the same time that they tell a story—sometimes in unexpected ways.

The media is often accused of being cynical or biased; people almost never take into account its ability to create cynicism or bias in the opposite direction. Despite prevailing wisdom, most people can judge when words do not ring true for them, and this can make them distrust the very source that should help them become informed.

The most that we can do as a news organization is to simply report the news—with as much objectivity as possible. If we choose our words carefully, it leaves everyone else with the freedom to do the same with their opinions. Peace homes,

Mary Beenken, Editor-in-Chief

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