Weasel words. Beware.
Like the shopping center that announces a "reduction" in its customer shuttle service between two malls. Read all the way through the memo and discover that it's completely eliminating the shuttle, a reduction of 100%.
Yesterday I spotted a display ad in the Press-Republican
that could be described as thought-provoking. Directed at local businesses interested in advertising, it shows the upper half of a TV set with the statement: "THINK YOU'LL BE SEEN? (NOT LIKELY.)"
This ad challenges the "doom and gloom" story that local newspapers are suffering circulation declines and certain death. If you want real doom and gloom, it says, look at TV.
The ad makes its argument against TV advertising in a series of points in bold print. For example:
"Prime time broadcast network television viewership is down 50% since the 1980s."
So what could this mean? It's ambiguous without proper context. By broadcast television, do they mean receiving network programs only by antenna? Many people have switched to cable and satellite services, ditching their antennas. That could result in a 50% drop in how viewers watch but not the overall audience. Broadcast networks can still be accessed by other means than over-the-air.
Or maybe that point means that broadcast network companies (NBC, CBS, ABC, etc.) are facing increased competition from cable channels since the 1980s while overall boob tube viewing has remained the same or is even greater. That doesn't rule out running an ad at your local cable TV company on one of its popular channels to reach customers.
Here's another point that raises questions due to its ambiguity:
"In the past week, the Press-Republican
print and website audience totaled over 74% of all adults"
But what does "all adults" mean? Shouldn't that read "over 74% of all adults [in a specified group or area]?" Does that percentage refer to a portion of all adults in its circulation area? Or only to the adults that work in its newsroom? Or just the adults in the publisher's home (including pets)?
Maybe I'm reading too much into this ad. After all, they say a person only uses about 10% of his potential brain power. To calculate a percentage you must know what 100% is. So what is 100% brain power? Who out there has complete mastery of his mental potential? Ask an "expert" at your local newspaper.
So watch out for weasel words. The title of this post is a prime example of such words in action. Before I wrote this, it didn't exist. But as soon as one person peruses it, the readership has jumped from zero to one hundred percent.