Jennifer D. Wade Journal

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Well, That's #interesting

For the first time in the 25 years that it's been choosing a Word of the Year, the American Dialect Society has chosen a hashtag as its Word of the Year.

You'll remember that the 2012 WOTY was, actually, hashtag.

Now, the ADS has chosen for the 2014 WOTY an actual hashtag: #blacklivesmatter.

The vote, taken January 9 in Portland, Oregon, reflects the strength of the hashtag, which was used to protest the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and other blacks at the hands of police. In the cases of Brown (Ferguson, Missouri) and Garner (Staten Island, NY), grand juries chose not to indict the officers involved. You can read the entire news release here.

In a more general sense, the choosing of a hashtag as the Word of the Year is yet another sign of the increasing influence of social media on language. It's also a tribute to the pithiness and succinctness that hashtags can inspire.

Even the 2013 WOTY, because, was chosen mainly for the new way in which it is being used, and that way is due, in part, to the prevalence of Tweeting and texting.

In the entries (here and here) immediately before this one, I offered my guesses for Word of the Year. My "real" guess was hack, a nod to the frequent data breaches of personal info stored online. I thought that because the Sony hack related to the movie The Interview was recent, it might get some consideration. But, no. Hack didn't even get a nomination.

Interestingly, my first and, admittedly, frivolous guess was closer to the mark. This past summer, a reporter at the TV station I work for interviewed a boy named Noah Ritter at the Wayne County Fair. He grabbed the microphone and, in the course of about one minute, used the word apparently several times as he riffed on the rides and the Powerball. The video went viral and Noah became known around the world as the #ApparentlyKid.

Apparently, I should have taken my guess one step further.

Oh well, there's always #WOTY2015.

Wait! I Thought of a Word!

So, just when I thought I had no idea what the American Dialect Society might choose as the 2014 Word of the Year, I had an idea and thought of one.

Which isn't to say I'm going to be right.

But, here it is.

I think that the word "hack" may stand a chance of taking top honors.

The word has been all over the news lately, what with North Korea allegedly hacking Sony because of some movie in which Seth Rogen and James Franco are hired by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. North Korea, of course, denies the hacking. Then, there's the theory that the hack job was an inside job. However it happened, the emails revealed by the hack are fascinating.

But, the Sony hack was by no means the only one. Hardly a week went by that we didn't hear about hackers stealing data from some large corporation. Those companies like to call it a "data breach" (Maybe another contender for WOTY?) because, I don't know, it sounds nicer? Whatever you call it, millions of people had their personal information compromised by hackers.

So, apparently, to my way of thinking, "hack" is a strong contender for WOTY.

Bring on Friday.

I'm Back! Word!

Hi! It's been a while, hasn't it? A good sign, though, is that I still remembered how to log in!

Well, if there's one thing that could bring me back to the blog after being away for so long it's the annual Word of the Year (that's WOTY, to you) announcement from the American Dialect Society.

The 2014 WOTY will be voted upon and selected Friday, January 9, when the members of the ADS gather in Portland, Oregon for their annual meeting.

Usually, I have (or at least feel like I have) some legitimate ideas about what the WOTY might be. But, last year, "because" came out of nowhere to win. Partly because of that, and partly because I was way too busy to worry about word usage, I feel like I have no idea what 2014's WOTY could be.

I think MY Word of the Year for 2014 is "apparently" because, apparently, one of the reporters I work with interviewed a kid who liked to say that word a lot.

Then, the video went viral, and now, apparently, the kid is a big star who hobnobs with the likes of Michael Strahan and Ellen.

You go, Noah!

In the meantime, I'll apparently have to wait a few days to see if the folks at the ADS agree with me.

And... He's Out

Jay Paterno left before he got kicked out.

This afternoon, the last man to jump into the race to be Pennsylvania's Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor jumped out. Paterno made the move just three days before Commonwealth Court was set to hear a challenge to the signatures on his nominating petitions.

As I wrote yesterday, Paterno's petitions contained only 117 more signatures than the 1,000 signature minimum required by law. He didn't have a lot of wiggle room and he knew it.

The Associated Press reported on Paterno's withdrawal from the race in an article that was picked up around the state and around the country. The article cites a statement put out by the Paterno campaign (of course, that statement was not sent to the TV station where I work) in which he basically says that he expected the petition challenge to lead to a lengthy legal battle, so he decided to put Pennsylvania and the party first and drop out now.

To me, that sounds like he didn't think his signatures would hold up, so better to get out while the gettin's good.

The whole statement is posted on his Facebook page:

"This afternoon I am announcing my intent to withdraw from the Lt. Governor's race. Over the past twenty-four hours in talking with attorneys it has become clear that the ballot challenge could be a long process with potential decisions and appeals carrying beyond Monday's hearing.

"With less than two months remaining before the primary I do not want an ongoing legal back and forth to be a distraction in this race. The outcome of this election is too important for the future of the working families and all the people of this Commonwealth.

"While I have always believed that you fight for what is right, there are times in life when personal ambitions should give way for the good of the whole. To that end I am stepping away. It is my hope that a focus on a thorough airing of the issues allows the best Democratic candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor to lead us into November.

"I thank everyone who has supported our campaign. I know we entered this race late and I alone bear responsibility for that and for any shortcomings in our efforts.

"As I have stated at every campaign stop I would be honored to be the nominee, but if I fell short of that goal, I would work hard to help the Governor and Lt. Governor nominees win the election in November. That has not changed. I will continue to advocate for the issues of Education, Employment and Equality that we all feel passionately about in any way I can contribute." ---Jay

Jack and Jay: Part II

There's a saying that goes "better late than never."

In the case of Jack Wagner - and maybe Jay Paterno - the more appropriate saying may be "better never than late."

It's been just over a month since I posted about the late entrance of Jack Wagner into the race to be Pennsylvania's Democratic nominee for governor. The same day Wagner threw his hat in the ring, political novice Jay Paterno announced his candidacy for lieutenant governor on the Democratic ticket.

Fast forward to March 26, and Jack is out of the race. He had enough signatures to get on the ballot, but he apparently didn't have enough money to make it a race worth running. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a good analysis here of the campaign that never was.

Ultimately, it seems Wagner got into the race too late to get any serious financial backing. And, his roots in western PA did not gain him any favor with folks in that part of the state. Many of them decided to throw their support behind Tom Wolf, who's currently leading the pack in the polls.

Wagner says he has not ruled out a run for office in the future, but judging by some of the comments on the article, there are some folks who wish this Jack would just hit the road and not come back.

As for Jay, he's still on the ballot for lieutenant governor, but there's a chance he may not stay there. On March 31, Commonwealth Court is set to hear a challenge to the signatures on his nominating petition. The challenge is being brought by Brad Koplinski, who was the supposed favorite on the Democratic side until Paterno and his name got into the race.

If what Koplinski says in his news release is accurate, Paterno managed to get slightly more than 1,100 signatures on his nominating petition. The minimum number is 1,000, and you're supposed to have 100 signatures from five different counties. According to Koplinski, all of Paterno's signatures come from five counties, but the question is whether all of those signatures are valid. Paterno and his people don't seem to have much of a cushion in case Koplinski's suspicions prove correct. And, if that's all the signatures the Paterno campaign could come up with, it makes you wonder about the organization he's put together and how serious his campaign really is.

I'll just add a couple other notes about Jay Paterno's campaign and how I see it. In the post last month, I wrote about the odd way his candidacy was announced - a campaign website that was supposed to be secret until late afternoon somehow became public around mid-morning. Then, as mysteriously as that website appeared, it disappeared and was gone for hours. Jay finally took to Twitter to confirm his candidacy, and the website reappeared a couple hours after that.

Since then, JayPa has been running what seems to be a rather low-key campaign, especially when you consider that he's running for statewide office. To the best of my knowledge, my news organization has not received any press releases from his campaign about anything - no "I'm running" announcement, no "here's what I think of this" statements, no attacks on other candidates, no "here's where I'll be on this date," no nothing. I do know that he visited the Scranton area a few weeks ago, but I only know that because one of our news crews happened to see him while they were covering a different story. We tracked him down again later in the day to talk to him - about a topic unrelated to his campaign.

The whole thing is just weird. Here's a guy with no political experience running for a statewide office. The one thing he has going for him is his name, yet he seems to be doing everything he can to keep his name from getting out there. It appears he put minimal effort into getting signatures for his nominating petition. But, should those signatures survive a challenge and he remains on the ballot, I have no idea where he stands on any of the issues. He doesn't seem to be doing much to convince people that, if elected lt. governor, he's prepared to take over as governor if needed.

Quite honestly, the whole thing feels like Paterno is trying to make connections with politicians around the state, feel them out, see where he stands. Maybe he's just trying to cover all his bases by trying to get his well-known name on the ballot with a little effort as possible.

Come March 31 (or soon after), we'll find out if that game plan succeeds.

Jack and Jay

You can take a former elections coordinator out of politics, but you can't take politics out of a former elections coordinator.

So, you can imagine my excitement yesterday when not one, but two big political stories broke concerning Pennsylvania Democrats.

First came word that Jay Paterno, son of long-time Penn State football coach Joe Paterno (in fact, Jay is really JVP Jr.) decided to jump into the free for all that is the race for lieutenant governor. I'll write more about exactly how this announcement unfolded in a bit.

Then, almost lost in all the JayPa buzz was the word that former state auditor general Jack Wagner was jumping into the crowded field of Democrats running for governor.

Considering that, where both races are concerned, most of the candidates announced quite a while ago, Jay and Jack look like latecomers to the party. But, both already have statewide name recognition, they're entering crowded races in which no clear frontrunner has emerged, and Tuesday was the first day to start circulating nominating petitions. So really, it's not like these folks have any serious catching up to do. Game on!

Some further thoughts. Regarding Wagner, I thought he would have been in the race long before now. Not sure why he wasn't (Keystone Politics may have the answer to that question), but he and his "people" no doubt took notice earlier this month when none of the current candidates got enough support at the Democratic State Committee meeting in Hershey to win the party's endorsement.

Rob McCord received the most support. Tom Wolf had a decent showing, and so did Allyson Schwartz. Wagner doesn't seem to have an official campaign website yet, but it probably won't take much to make active again.

Jay Paterno was also reportedly rubbing elbows with the party bigwigs in Hershey. Paterno was said to be a likely choice to challenge GOP Congressman Glenn Thompson in the 5th District. But, the district is gerrymandered to tilt solidly Republican, and unseating an incumbent is always difficult.

Seeing the lack of consensus concerning the best Democrat to challenge Gov. Corbett, Paterno may have decided that his better course of action was to add his name to the already long list of potential candidates for lieutenant governor. Despite his lack of political experience, Paterno has a name that will stand out in a field of no-names (Brad Koplinski seemed to be the favorite up til now). While there are some people who will definitely NOT vote for him because he's a Paterno, if he can get even 20% of the primary vote, he stands a good chance of moving on to November.

The way we learned about Paterno's candidacy was something of a mystery. It took me a while to figure out if it was real or a joke.

It started around mid-morning on Thursday when I noticed a Tweet from a student-run news site called Onward State. The Tweet linked to an article about Jay Paterno running for lieutenant governor. The article cited a statement and biographical information on Paterno's campaign website. But, when I clicked on the link to that website, all I got was a blank, blue background.

The mystery deepened when other news outlets also cited information on this alleged website. Efforts to view that website, however, continued to lead to a blue screen and later to a page that looked like the site had been taken down altogether. What candidate takes down his own website? I checked out the source code and discovered that the site was hosted by To my mind, an unusual choice for someone running for statewide office.

Not til early afternoon did the Paterno candidacy start to take on a ring of truth. News stories started to cite local party officials as saying Paterno had told them he was running for lieutenant governor. Then, someone managed to get confirmation from Paterno himself.

Around 2 p.m, Jay Paterno took to Twitter to say that, yes, he is running for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.

Appreciate the interest The web site is going live at 4 pm (which was the plan) Thanks for your patience

 Jay Paterno (@JayPaterno) February 20, 2014

So, it's not a joke! He really is running for lieutenant governor!

I'm a registered Independent, so I can't vote in the primary. I've never met Jay Paterno, and I don't have any reason to favor (or not favor) him over any other candidate. But, here are my general impressions so far.

If the website was supposed to go "live" at 4pm, how did someone manage to "find" it hours earlier? In my experience, websites hosted by Wix are not easy to find with a search engine. So, either a) the web designer screwed up; b) someone in the campaign leaked it on purpose; or c) someone can't keep a secret.

A good four or five hours passed from the time the site popped up and then quickly went down until Paterno gave any kind of confirmation. Once he confirmed it, it took close to another three hours (around 4:45pm) for the website to go up again. I'm not sure if the day's timeline is a sign of an incompetent campaign or brilliant campaign strategy.

Either way, as a former elections coordinator, my advice to this campaign is to put up website that can be easily found with a search engine and to start sending out news releases to media organizations with names and numbers of your campaign contacts.

A name and a Twitter account (even one with 57,000+ followers) will only get you so far. Ultimately, you have to play the game.

Just Because

Once again, my prediction for the Word of the Year proved to be off the mark. Why? Because.

That's right. At their recent meeting in Minneapolis, members of the American Dialect Society chose because as the 2013 Word of the Year. My pick, "Obamacare," finished a distant second. Thankfully, "selfie" and "twerk" were even farther behind. You can read the entire news release here.

I gotta say, this one took me by surprise. Last year, "hashtag" (#) took 2012 WOTY honors due to the widespread emergence of Twitter. The selection of "because" also seems to be driven by social media and online usage.

The ADS chose "because" because the word is being used in new ways - ways that I was not aware of until November, when I read this article. It points out that usage of the word "because" is evolving from a subordinating conjunction into a preposition.

In traditional usage, "because" is followed by a clause. Example: I'm late because I spent too much time watching videos on YouTube. It can also be followed by a prepositional phrase: I'm late because of YouTube.

Now, "because" is starting the prepositional phrase. Example: I'm late because YouTube. I'm not going because tired. I'm writing this post because Word of the Year.

How did this new usage come about? The aforementioned article lists a few ideas, including Internet memes. It also allows for brevity, an economy of words favored by people who text, tweet, post on Facebook or blog.

As far as I can see, the new construction has not yet found its way into more mainstream websites and publications. Maybe I just don't read enough, but I haven't seen it used in any newspaper articles or articles posted on, say, I also haven't heard people actually talk this way.

But, all that could happen soon enough because trend.

Does Obamacare Cover Injuries Caused by Twerking?

What if a selfie exists as proof of how I got hurt?

With a title and lead like that, it can only mean one thing: The time to predict the 2013 Word of the Year (WOTY) is here!

The American Dialect Society will choose the 2013 WOTY on January 3, 2014 at its annual meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It can get pretty cold up there in January, so expect a flurry of activity as members choose from words that cross a broad spectrum of parts of speech and usages.

Last year, the ADS chose "hashtag" (#) as the 2012 word of the year. I had my money on the politically-motivated "double down," but the victory of the symbol popularized by Twitter shows the growing influence of social media in our society and in our language.

In mid-November, the folks at Oxford Dictionaries reinforced the trend toward social media dominance by choosing "selfie" as their own Word of the Year.

In case you don't know what a selfie is, Oxford Dictionaries defines it as "a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website." So, basically, a selfie is a picture that you take of yourself to show your friends, friends of friends, and followers how cool you think you are.

The selfie garnered some buzz back in June, when former first lady/presidential candidate/Secretary of State Hillary Clinton snapped a selfie with daughter Chelsea (check it out here). The article about that selfie (which appears to have been taken by Chelsea) also notes that Hillary had joined Twitter a few days earlier. And, on a related topic, who can forget the short-lived but highly entertaining Texts from Hillary meme in 2012. If Hillary does run in 2016, she'll have the edge in social media, I think. (Although, I must say, NJ Gov. Chris Christie has a Twitter account and he's not afraid to use it!)

So, admittedly "selfie" is a strong contender for the 2013 WOTY. But, I don't think we should hand over the trophy just yet. There are some other strong contenders out there. Thanks to Miley Cyrus, "twerk" worked its way into the Oxford Dictionaries Online edition over the summer ("selfie" also made the cut). The twerking phenomenon also inspired this epic prank from the folks at Jimmie Kimmel Live.

What I Did This Summer

Apologies for the lack of posts these past few months. I've been busy at work and at home.

For about six weeks this past summer, my home was pretty much a construction zone. After months of thinking about it, I finally hired a contractor to remodel my kitchen/half-bath/laundry room.

We started with this:
Lived like this for a day while the flooring was installed
And, after about six weeks, ended up with this:

I spent another week or two putting everything back in order, which took us to the beginning of October. That's when other stuff decided that, as long as I was remodeling and replacing, it might as well get remodeled and replaced, too.

So, I began another six-week period during which I (as best I can recall) did the following: replaced a headlight in my car; replaced a CFL bulb in the bathroom; replaced a 3-way light bulb in the living room; replaced the battery in my watch; replaced the charger for my 13-year-old Palm PDA; replaced the modem on my computer; took my computer back to "factory condition" and reinstalled pretty much every program I had on it; replaced the satellite dish for my DirecTV service. Fortunately, none of these was a major expense, but taken together, they were time consuming and quite annoying.

I'm still not convinced that the computer is right, but it's functional. Here's hoping it stays functional at least until the kitchen is paid for.

More Answers Create More Questions

It's been almost two weeks, since my last "Namegate"-related post, so it's time for an update.

To recap, "Namegate" refers to the airing by television station KTVU of fake, racially insensitive names of the pilots on board an Asiana Airlines flight that crashed at San Francisco International last month. Two people died. KTVU covers the San Francisco area and very publicly congratulated itself on its initial crash coverage.

The unfortunate airing of the obviously fake names happened Friday, July 12, six days after the crash. Since then, KTVU has done little to explain how the names made it on air. It did provide an apology which a) didn't make a lot of sense in terms of believability; and b) threw the NTSB (ultimately, an NTSB intern) under the bus for "confirming" the fake names. KTVU has said little else, but it did eventually fire two veteran producers, a third veteran producer retired, and a fourth producer (who was not involved in the story) got fired for violating the station's social media policy. He Tweeted "Oh s**t" just moments after the names aired.

The most insight into exactly what went down at KTVU has come from Bay Area blogger Rich Lieberman. His POST from yesterday indicates that the source of the fake names was a trusted source, an ex-pilot, who had helped out KTVU before. Lieberman's sources say the names were run by a newsroom manager of Asian descent who supposedly questioned them. But, confirmation by the NTSB (intern) seems to have trumped any doubts, and the fake names ended up on a graphic and on a script that the anchor seems to have had time to look over before actually reading the names on air.

The other point raised by Lieberman's source (and which has been pointed out before) is that the real names of the Asiana pilots had already been made public several days prior to KTVU airing the fake names. I have yet to hear of KTVU reporting the "real" names on-air, but the names did appear in several articles posted to KTVU's website in the days immediately following the crash.

THIS article, posted on Monday, July 8, two days after the crash, contains the names of two of the pilots and notes that material for the article came from both the Associated Press and from THIS article posted the following day, July 9, is similar. It also contains the names of two of the pilots and indicates that content for the article came from both the AP and Other posts from around that same time also include the names of the two pilots but cite only the AP as the source.

A simple SEARCH of KTVU's website turned up any number of articles, posted within two or three days of the crash, containing the actual names of at least two of the Asiana pilots on board the flight. I can only imagine that a search of the Internet would have yielded similar results.

So, I still don't get it.

Here's a station that bragged about its initial coverage of the crash - on the web, on the air and on social media. First! First! First! But, it seems that no one at KTVU paid attention to its own continuing coverage. Information about the real names of the pilots was out there. KTVU staffers contributed content to articles that contained those names. Someone at KTVU had to have seen the real names days before the fake ones made air!

Yet, it appears that the KTVU crews covering the story on the ground (which would include pretty much anyone directly involved with a newscast) never bothered to read their own station's website. Or, for that matter, any newspaper article about the crash. It also appears that the people involved with newscasts and the people involved with the website don't talk to each other. About anything. At all. Ever.

Considering how my own newsroom works, I find that hard to believe. Granted, I work in a smaller market than KTVU. They probably have more staff dedicated to the station website than we do. It's possible that their web staff may be separated from the newsroom, maybe in a different room or even on a different floor. If that's the case, that doesn't seem like the best scenario for two departments that need to work in tandem.

What Rich Lieberman's efforts reveal (and WHAT I HAVE SUSPECTED ALL ALONG), is that quite a few people had hands and/or eyes on the fake names before they ever made air. In fact, that number seems to be growing. So, again, KTVU, by its silence, is asking us to believe the unbelievable.

We're being asked to believe that NO ONE at KTVU who "touched" the story about the fake names had ever seen or heard the real names. That's even though the names had been out there, including on the station's own website, for several days. As a journalist, how do you provide continuing coverage of a story that you claimed to own from the start without reading about it or watching other coverage? At the very least, don't you want to check out the competition?

We're being asked to believe that when the fake names came into the station, and even after a news manager raised questions about the fake names, no one bothered to search the station website or the Internet. Not even the veteran "Investigative Projects Producer" who seems to have been the one to receive the fake names? Just speaking from experience, I know people (me included) who will attempt to get information though all kinds of avenues if it means they don't have to make a phone call. A phone call, especially to a government bureaucracy like the NTSB, is often a last resort.

We're being asked to believe that, even though the NTSB (intern) "confirmed" the fake names, no one in the KTVU newsroom still had questions. Still, no one bothered to Google them?

And, we're being asked to believe that, almost a week after the crash of an airplane owned by an airline from another country and filled with mostly foreign passengers, the people at KTVU thought the "names" of the pilots were so important that they had to be rushed onto the air. Why does it matter? It's not like their names (their real names) are going to go down in infamy. "Remember that plane that Lee Gang-guk and Lee Jeong-min were flying?" no one will say. Ever.

The more we learn about this whole debacle, the less we know.

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