Neutrality

Yesterday, the UK voted on whether to leave the EU. Most of my reading came from the BBC on this, where the sides were dubbed recently as “Leave” or “Remain”.

I try to be wary of bias from media, even from sources that I like. I’d wager that more BBC writers voted Remain, and maybe this was inadvertently reflected in the coverage.

Interesting quote from Brexit: David Cameron to quit after UK votes to leave EU:

Yesterday seemed to offer a fork in the road: one path (Remain) promised it would lead to a modern world of opportunity based on interdependence; the other (Leave) was advertised as a route to an independent land that would respect tradition and heritage.

Immediately, I was struck by how this sentence seemed to cast the Leave path as backwards-looking and regressive. But I value modernity (progress) more than independence, and have little use for tradition. Could it be that I was reading too much into it?

Well, the very next sentence:

Which path people took depended on the prism through which they saw the world.

Ha! Maybe my prism also distorted how the statement read. Would your average Leaver or Remainer feel the same way I did?

What if they had switched the order, with the Leave clause first? Would it read the same way?

Yesterday seemed to offer a fork in the road: one path (Leave) was advertised as a route to an independent land that would respect tradition and heritage; the other (Remain) promised it would lead to a modern world of opportunity based on interdependence.

Even the imbalanced phrasing could be scrutinized, one side described as an “advertisement” and the other as a “promise”. The words are similar enough, but not exactly right if the clauses were to be truly parallel. I’d expect advertisement to be evaluated as more negative of a word than promise.

Or maybe the average Brit evaluates the words differently than me, an American.

It’s understandable that the writer wouldn’t want to duplicate the word, but there were probably better choices.

Editors can’t have an easy job. If they want to be good editors, that is.