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Making a case for a singular ‘they’

  I am definitely on team revise-to-avoid-using-“they”-as-a-singular-pronoun, but the 2017 edition of the AP Stylebook (the industry standard writing guide for journalists) acknowledges the limited use of “they” as a singular pronoun. As always, the goal is clarity, not rigid adherence to a rule. They/them/their is acceptable in limited cases as a singular and-or gender-neutral pronoun, when alternative wording is overly awkward or clumsy. However, rewording usually is possible and always is…

California Political Cyberfraud Abatement Act Pulled by Author

California’s Ed Chau withdrew his proposed legislation that would have criminalized the willing sharing of “a false or deceptive statement designed to influence the vote” on any issue or candidate. (The Electronic Frontier Foundation objected to the bill: “You can’t fight fake news with a bad law.”) The bill would also make it unlawful for a person to knowingly and willingly make, publish or circulate on a Web site, or…

Always Bet on Text

Graydon Hoare offers a rousing hymn to the virtues of text. Don’t get me wrong, I like me some illustrations, photos, movies and music. But text wins by a mile. Text is everything. My thoughts on this are quite absolute: text is the most powerful, useful, effective communication technology ever, period. Text is the oldest and most stable communication technology (assuming we treat speech/signing as natural phenomenon — there are…

A new study says young Americans have a broad definition of news

I expect that many of my students will be living the experiences documented in this study of how young people encounter news; nevertheless, it’s difficult to notice your own environment if you can’t compare it to *different* environments. Because I grew up with the three TV network news shows and the copy of The Washington Post (my dad would pick it up in the driveway on his way out to…

Facebook Finally Rolls Out ‘Disputed News’ Tag Everyone Will Dispute

Anybody seen a post tagged this way? If so, I’d welcome a screenshot. On Friday, Facebook debuted its new flagging system for fake news in America, tagging hoax stories as “disputed” for some users. First announced amid criticism of the company for its role in spreading misinformation during the 2016 election, the new feature uses non-partisan third parties to assess the factual accuracy of stories reported as fake by users.…