The word, selected by Oxford’s editors, does not need to be coined in the past year but it does have to capture the English-speaking public’s mood and preoccupations. And that makes this one an apt choice for countries like America and Britain, where people lived through divisive, populist upheavals that often seemed to prize passion above all else – including facts.
The word dates back to at least 1992, but Oxford saw its usage explode by 2,000 percent this year, based on their ongoing monitoring of how people are using English. Oxford notes that the phrase post-truth politics has enjoyed particular popularity of late.
“It’s not surprising that our choice reflects a year dominated by highly-charged political and social discourse,” said Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Dictionaries. “Fueled by the rise of social media as a news source and a growing distrust of facts offered up by the establishment, post-truth as a concept has been finding its linguistic footing for some time.” And, he suggests, it may become a defining word of our time.
The selection is a rather somber follow-up to last year’s choice — an emoji shedding tears of joy that reflected people’s playfulness in embracing changing language more than their pains in weathering changing politics. Although the short list contains some light-hearted concepts, it too reflects a big truth about 2016: it has been a hard year full of soul-searching and separation, marked by transition and lines between self and other.
The Short List
Adulting noun, informal: The practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks. (See: more on why millennials have embraced the term.)
Alt-Right noun: An ideological grouping associated with extreme conservative or reactionary viewpoints, characterized by a rejection of mainstream politics and by the use of online media to disseminate deliberately controversial content.
Brexiteer noun, informal: A person who is in favor of the United Kingdom withdrawing from the European Union. (See: how news outlets around the world covered that story.)
Chatbot noun: A computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet. (See: an explanation on why these are taking over all the things.)
Coulrophobia noun: Extreme or irrational fear of clowns (See: what an odd October diversion the “clown craze” was.)
Glass Cliff noun: Used with reference to a situation in which a woman or member of a minority group ascends to a leadership position in challenging circumstances where the risk of failure is high. (See: the plights of women who rise in politics.)
Hygge noun: A quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being, regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture. (See: how popular the idea has become in British culture.)
Latinx noun: A person of Latin American origin or descent, used as a gender-neutral or non-binary alternative to Latino or Latina. (See: the rise of non-binary identities.)
Woke adjective, US informal: [originally in African-American usage] Alert to injustice in society, especially racism. (See: a must-read on what you should consider before using the term.)
Media calls on Trump to uphold White House traditions
Eighteen journalism associations penned an open letter to President-elect Donald Trump that requests a full press pool, regular press conferences and a more responsive approach to fulfilling freedom of information act requests.
The letter, which calls Trump “the new leader of the free world,” was signed by the American Society for News Editors, The National Press Club, Reporters Without Border and The Regional Reporters Association, among others. Committee to Protect Journalists, which also signed the letter, said in October that Trump threatened press freedoms.
“We expect that you, as the new leader of the free world, will preserve longstanding traditions that ensure coverage of the Trump presidency,” letter reads. “The idea of a press pool that covers all of the president’s movements is one that dates back to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration.”
The letter further calls reporting on the president “critically important to our country.”
“Every president of both parties has treated this important tradition with respect,” it continues. “The role of the press pool is critically important to our country whose citizens depend on and deserve to know what the president is doing. This isn’t about access for the press itself; it’s about access for Americans in diverse communities across the country.”
The letter came shortly after Trump ditched reporters while heading out to dinner in New York City. The White House Correspondents’ Association called that move “unacceptable.”
Smart home devices give brands new ways to advertise
The next time you need help removing a stain from clothing or are searching for cocktail recipes, don’t be surprised if help comes in the form of sponsored voice messages from Tide or Johnnie Walker.
After years of hype, Amazon, Google and Apple’s vision for the Internet of Things is starting to come to fruition with the rollout of smart home devices like Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple’s Siri and its HomeKit, which launched in September. In fact, 6.3 million voice assistants will be shipped in 2016, amounting to $890 million, according to research firm Futuresource Consulting. No surprise that marketers are hoping to cash in on this new AI technology by embedding voice-activated experiences.
Notable brands are creating their own “skills,” which lets users ask questions and talk to Alexa, Amazon’s AI platform. Tide, for example, gives consumers detailed instructions on how to remove stains. After reading the directions out loud, Alexa sends the instructions in a text message with a link to buy laundry detergent on Amazon.com. Johnnie Walker’s location-based program helps people find nearby liquor stores that sell its label. Once someone makes a purchase, Johnnie Walker can recommend cocktail recipes. In all, there are more than 4,500 skills, with 700 new skills available in the last week alone, per Amazon. Quaker Oats, Patrón Tequila and Domino’s also are on board.
Meanwhile, marketers are just starting to get their hands on Google Home – the internet giant’s play to own the living room – and are exploring ways to use Google’s trove of data across email, search, maps and more. In December, Google will open up its AI software, called Google Assistant, allowing developers and marketers to build voice skills that are similar to Echo.
Then there’s Apple. In June, Apple opened up Siri’s program to brands like Uber and Fandango to build voice apps that work within iMessage. But Apple’s so-called walled garden has kept marketers from digging in. And its latest living room entry, HomeKit, just rolled out this fall.
Like marketers, agencies also are preparing to join the fray, staffing up on AI talent and exploring ways to create branded content offerings. Earlier this month, holding company MDC Media Partners launched stand-alone agency Born to bring together the creative and technology sides of AI and voice.
Golden Mic | Tony Romo Puts Character, Team Above Self
The Dallas Cowboys franchise quarterback gave Americans a lesson in character and leadership when he called a press conference to announce that Dak Prescott had earned the right to be called the Cowboys’ quarterback.
Romo’s statistics are Hall of Fame quality, according to the NFL. He is ranked 3rd all time in Lifetime QB rating above Tom Brady, Steve Young and Peyton Manning. Romo is ranked 1st all time in 4th Quarter QB rating. In his career Romo has 21 4th Quarter comeback wins, and won 58 percent of his regular season games, one point higher than Troy Aikman, and without Emmit and Michael.
Romo is 23–5 in November, highest winning percentage of any QB with 20 or more starts in that month.
Romo has repeatedly sacrificed himself to lift his team. He endured both physical trauma, and a lack of respect by some fans, some pundits and some sports journalists because his team did not get to the Super Bowl.
With this latest measure of selflessness, Romo secured his place in the most important Hall of Fame there is. He set aside his own personal ambition, his own earned place on the team, in order to avoid the kind of distraction that can divide a team, a team on the precipice of history and greatness. Romo threw himself under the bus for his team. In a nation, and a sport where “me first” is the norm, Romo did what only great men do. For that, he gets a 24-carat Golden Mic!
» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him @spinsurgeon.
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