Everyone should be wary of using the word 'everyone'

Everyone should be wary of using the word 'everyone'
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Over the past weekend, I noticed a trend in the news, especially on the radio and social media. Many commentators and reporters were referring to the helicopter crash in California that had "everyone" talking, "everyone" grieving, and quotes from people saying "everyone" was in shock.

Well, I kept listening and reading, and other stories were about the president's trial in the Senate, the weather, traffic, and all sorts of other things... everyone was demonstrably not talking about the crash.

Personally, since I follow very little about basketball, I could not have told you Kobe Bryant's team, nor whether he had retired, before the stories began. But now "everyone" knows.

The same thing happened with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex -- or are they just plain Harry and Meghan now? -- stepping back from royal duties. "Everybody" had an opinion, "everyone" knew them.

But as soon as one person doesn't fit the pattern, the word "everyone" doesn't fit. We ought to be much more careful with "everyone" and the related "everybody," as well as "no one" and "nobody."

Everybody knows that one team will win a game? Then why play?

Everyone knows that the Republicans are going to stick together in the Senate? Has all the testimony been given?

No one cares about the other arguments? Then why give them? No one cares about the story? How about the editors who decided it's news?

Generalizations are that dangerous. Other ideas get crowded out. I'm sad that nine people died in the helicopter crash, but I'm most concerned about whether that helicopter was built to carry nine people -- an even number just strikes me as more logical. Was it overloaded?

Oh, you're thinking everybody doesn't think that way? Thank you very much.

 

As most people reading this far know, Margaret Serious has a page on Facebook.

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  • The way this was going on sports radio yesterday (2 days after the fact) one would have thought that every commentator thought God died.
    The other two things that took me aback:
    1) The smug sheriff who held a press conference basically saying that until the coroner identifies the victims, we don't know who they are. Why did he think the press attended?
    2) The phrase "Kobe, his 13 year old daughter and 7 others died..." Besides being so stock, it seemed disrespectful of the others. I saw only one report on who the Altobellis were.

  • In reply to jack:

    Well put on both points, Jack. Being careful with "we" is important, too. I'm pointing out the word usage here because I know that when a big story breaks, the habits that get used are the long-term ones, and the language that gets used is habitual.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    I still can't figure out how everyone (to misuse the term at issue) got the habit I noted in #2 within about 12 hours.

  • In reply to jack:

    Well observed, Jack. Thank you. The only thing I can attribute that to is habits under pressure -- "Well, I always say that" and/or "I'm too busy to think of grammar and usage rules." I was taught to watch those rules all the time so that when I am under pressure, good usage is still there. (I think there's something to being a teacher's daughter in that. Both of my parents were teachers.)

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    I have the feeling it is ripping off something from the AP Wire than Murray Slaughter actually writing the news.

  • In reply to jack:

    In my experience, Jack, AP stories are usually clearly written. But the image of Murray generally having so much time to write the news (on the "Mary Tyler Moore Show") was made a long time ago. On the other hand, the show itself was so well observed that when I wound up working in newsrooms, I recognized a few "types."

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    I remember when Len O'Connor pulled a Ted Baxter,but it was the last time he was on Channel 5. Went to Channel 9.

    My comment was focused on lack of originality. A couple of days ago WGN and WLS played exactly the same out of town story. I forgot what it was about, but obviously Nexstar is getting some news from ABC.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, thank you. That's a good reason to read, watch or listen to multiple news outlets. Even when things are recorded, there are humans behind the recordings, and judgment is fallible. Interesting, but fallible.

  • Problem is that the news outlets are not independent. Aside from the WLS/WGN issue I noted above, a quick look at the Sun-Tines and Tribune websites indicates that both ran the same story on The Acquittal, and, national news, the Sun-Times is running USA Today and the Tribune is running the New York Times. In my view, the primary source controls, but the local media are no longer primary sources, except for such things as the S-T's missing persons and missing person found (at least it has the integrity to publish the latter).

  • In reply to jack:

    Thanks, Jack, but I beg to differ. I don't read the Sun-Times often enough to be certain of how often they run particular columnists and original stories, but I know they have their own content. The Tribune is facing some cutbacks now, but still publishes a lot of its own stories and photos along with wire-service and affiliated papers' coverage. I don't mind a mix myself.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    As far as particular columnists published by either paper, I don't care, as I established about 12 years ago that few (including the one in the right pane) have the factual knowledge to convey an opinion worth my respect,* and especially enough to sway my vote (I know the Tribune editorial board basically supports neocons who say they will reduce taxes, and that worked "real well" with Rauner). I'm only interested in the facts. I have more respect for the Sun-Times, 1. for admitting that it has union investors, and 2. actually doing investigations that matter, such as Hired Trucks. It has indicated that knows what happened at Lincoln Park HS, but hasn't disclosed it yet. The only thing other media outlets have disclosed is that somehow the students are in de facto control of the school.

    Let me put it this way: I was in publishing and know what media consolidation and byproducting mean.

    ___
    *Such as when Zorn had his "Sign Jesse sign" column and I wrote on a comment board that he didn't know anything about mandamus law, and he eventually admitted it. Maybe it is an improvement that the local media no longer have comment boards.

  • In reply to jack:

    Thanks for your continued attention, Jack, but our conversation has strayed from the original purpose of the post -- and I think we're both in danger of falling back on "everyone" or "everybody" to support our particular views. (I know what media consolidation is, having gone through some of it, but I don't think I want to know what "byproducting" is, even though it's the first time I've seen the word.)

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    One source taking from another verbatim, by the second in time somehow acquiring the copyright to it.

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