Our subscriber Elizabeth Perillo in Woodstock, Ga. was offended by two photographs in the Sept. 7 edition of the Independent. Her letter to the editor last week said the pictures of scantily clad men on their way to the annual White Party and riding their bikes through town on Labor Day weekend were “devastating.”
She was not the only one who complained. Another reader who signed her note to me as the “mother of three boys” but without her name wrote: “That issue had way too much heiny-bone for any newspaper.”
Let me start by affirming that exposing readers to their neighbors’ buttocks is not actually part of our mission as a newspaper. It was an unusual coincidence that our first issue in September featured so many derrières. We did talk about whether it was a good idea to publish them, and we decided that they were both striking images that captured an important Provincetown moment — though not a serious one, more about an end-of-summer eruption of silliness and self-indulgence.
As Marnie Crawford Samuelson, who took the photograph of the guys in chefs’ hats and underwear, commented, “You wouldn’t have that problem if you had started a newspaper in Chatham.”
While I don’t agree with them, I do sympathize with those unhappy correspondents, and I thank them for airing their grievances. It’s important to know what makes readers mad. I have my own list of things that offend me — like anonymous sources. I try to keep them from appearing in these pages.
And I’ve written before about my objections to using the word concerning as a synonym for “alarming,” as in “This tax increase is very concerning.” Is something worth worrying about? Please say so.
Another word on my do-not-use list is share — except when it’s a noun meaning a “portion” or “part” or a verb meaning “to divide.” It’s not a proper synonym for “say” or “tell.” In other words, you may share your brownie with me but not your feelings.
A word you’ll see everywhere except here is impactful. And impact itself has pretty much replaced the words effect, result, and outcome. It’s a perfectly good word, but it means “crash into” or “collide with.”
Please don’t tell me you’re having an informational meeting, that you’d like to offer some content for the paper, or about your lived experience. Virtual reality notwithstanding, if you have experienced something it seems to me that it must have happened while you were alive.
That brings to mind a phrase common in accident reports: non-life threatening injuries, which I suppose are the ones that injure people who are living non-lives.
At this point you are undoubtedly thinking that I am hopelessly old-fashioned about language. I plead guilty. That doesn’t mean I don’t think words should be fun. Come to the OysterFest Spelling Bee on Saturday at the Wellfleet library and see. I might ask you to spell caudal, as in the caudal fin found on a fish’s posterior.