Sometimes when I’m reading I come across a word or phrase that I’m unfamiliar with. In fiction, I find that fascinating — an author has pushed me beyond the page; I am experiencing the writing in the book and beyond it.
When it comes to journalism, though, sometimes obscure phrases seem annoying. I’m not sure it’s fair, but when I don’t know a jargon-y phrase in a general-audience-enough news article, I feel a bit like the writer may not have done enough work to include me.
A recent example is “accountable care organization.” It appeared in an article about the company ProHealth in The Business Journal – Milwaukee Edition 4 November 2011 issue. A coworker and I were reading the Journal at lunch and we weren’t quite sure what the phrase meant, so I looked it up in Wikipedia. As I began to read the definition to my coworker, he, apparently with new psychic powers, started saying the same words I was. After reading the definition (in the photo), I looked over and he pointed out that the Journal article included the same words verbatim later in the article than we had initially read.
So, did Wikipedia copy the Business Journal? The citation for the Wikipedia article was broken today (6 December 2011), so I couldn’t tell where the website had received its information. Do journalists care in cases like this, when it’s possible writing hasn’t been cited correctly?