Suggestions from the crystal ball

When a reporter wants to insert his or her own opinion, speculation or guess into a news story, a handy word is “suggests.” Here’s an excellent example from a Washington Post story from London, in the Boston Globe, Feb. 21, 2019, about three members quitting Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party, joining eight who left the Labor Party: “The creation of a small but potentially powerful independent block of 11 — now composed of moderate rebels from both parties — suggests that seismic forces are at work in British politics.”

The Merriam-Webster definition of seismic: “of, subject to, or caused by an earthquake…having a strong or widespread impact: earthshaking.”

Now, if “potentially powerful…seismic forces are at work,” they would certainly be obvious, shaking up London and the entire UK. These “seismic forces” would not simply be a suggestion.

Of course, if nothing seismic happens, not even a weak tremor, you’ll never read about it. The reporter will be on to the next suggestion from his or her own crystal ball.

File under: Speculation in the guise of news.

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