Thursday, January 22, 2015

Why is Crosscut so bad at metonymy of Olympia, but the Spokane paper so good?

I'm not going to bother really trying to prove this observation with numbers. But, here's how my headline reading brain had divided up the legislative coverage and use of the term Olympia:

  • Crosscut is horrible. Replete with Olympia this, Olympia that.
  • Most of the rest are okay. Usually "in Olympia" sort of things. The Seattle Times is the biggest example I can bring up in my memory.
  • The Spokesman Review's Spin Control blog is the best. They officially use the WAleg hashtag (minus the #) in their blog headlines instead of the classic "Olympia:" starter.

But, why is Crosscut the worst at using the term Olympia in a way that makes me mad?

For as much talk as their is about "a new model of journalism" (and I think Crosscut is doing a pretty good job at what they do), Crosscut was founded by a lot of well meaning people from a previous generation of Seattle well-doers.

And, I think that's the point. Using Olympia as a shorthand for state government, the legislature or even the governor, seems to be a practice of people who have been around Puget Sound politics for awhile. Olympia is down there, its nearby, it is where politics on a certain level happen in this state.

Olympia is close enough to know it is there, but to also misunderstand.

The Spokesman Review, on the other hand, is literally geographically removed from this. Olympia is not nearby. It might as well (and historically likely could have been) practically been in another state. Olympia is not a placemark for people outside of the Puget Sound. So, when it comes to state government, or the legislature, they are literally the state government and the legislature.

So, if you've gotten to the end of this piece and you have no idea at all what I'm talking about, follow the "metonymy of Olympia" link directly under the headline and see how far you can read.

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