In journalism, exactness in word choice is most crucial, short of which you risk misleading readers. I suppose the gems I’ve picked from Page 5 of the October 15 edition of Bongo’s huge and colourful broadsheet will underscore my assertion.
In a story entitled, ‘Court gives M 14 days to file affidavit against the charge of snatching a vehicle’.
This is a story on an ex-government official who, in the face of a civil case facing him, has been ordered by a judge to present his defence in regard to an accusation by one PK whose car he allegedly converted to his.
Therein, the scribbler writes in Para 3: “Judge RK gave the order after the LEARNED COUNCIL (sic), GJ representing M who is the second respondent…claimed that his client has not received the charge sheet.”
Learned council? There’re two issues here. One, a person who represents someone in a legal matter is not a council. He/She is a COUNSEL. A council is an administrative jurisdiction. Like, city council.
Furthermore, I would caution media colleagues against referring to a legal counsel (lawyer) as a “learned” this or that!
Bongo’s senior-most journalist who also happens to be an Advocate of the High Court, Jenerali Ulimwengu, once explained to us that the use of the term “learned brother/advocate” is confined to legal practitioners when presenting arguments between themselves. We lesser mortals should simply call them lawyer, advocate or counsel!
In Para 5, the scribbler writes: “K has opened the civil case asking the court to order M and his COLLEAGUE…to pay him more than 247.2m/- as compensation for LOOTING his Range Rover.”
Now a person with whom you steal together or take possession of someone’s property illegally is not your colleague; he’s your ACCOMPLICE. Please check out what “colleague” mean.
And then, taking possession of an item (such as a vehicle) from an individual is not looting. Why, looting is stealing of GOODS from a place, typically during a war or riot.
On the same page, there’s another story entitled, ‘Government should learn from Community Health Fund’, and therein, a healthy life campaigner is thus reported: “He added that the Universal Health Coverage should grab some of the successes used by CHF including the ability to let the schemes be self-RELIABLE financially.
Self-reliable? Nope! The schemes should be self-RELIANT financially.
Then, on Saturday, October 22, Bongo’s senior-most broadsheet ran a story on Page 2 with the headline, ‘Mtwara DC orders arrest of TASAF fund (sic!) fraudsters’.
Now TASAF, in case you don’t know, reader, stands for Tanzania Social Action Fund. It means, when the headline chief writes, “TASAF fund” he indulges in tautological balderdash!
Then in Para 6, our scribbler writes:
“…Mr Kyobia asked the recipients of TASAF grants to use the funds by investing in income-generating projects and seek FOR self-employment.”
Seek “for” self-employment? Nope! You don’t seek for something; you simply SEEK IT. Like we should say: Seek a job. Seek a marriage partner.
Finally, something from the Saturday, October 22 edition of the tabloid closely associated with this columnist. On Page 3, there’s a story entitled, ‘Hotspot for sexual harassment named’.
Herein, the scribbler writes in Para 5 of the third leg: “…Rashid Kalinga, UDSM alumni, thinks MORE tougher legal action should be taken against perpetrators…”
Hey! Mr Kalinga isn’t a University of Dar ALUMNI; he’s University of Dar ALUMNUS, meaning a former student of UDSM. Alumni is plural for alumnus!
More tougher…? Too basic, isn’t it? But then, there we are! Okay…we say: ..TOUGHER legal action. Tough, tougher, toughest—remember?
Towards the end of his story, the scribbler writes: “There is also a need to have specific legislation that would address the matter, including those that appear to INFRINGE WOMEN rights.”
Hang on! You don’t infringe anybody’s this or that. Instead infringe UPON/ON somebody’s this or that.
Ah, this treacherous language called English!