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Close the gate

September 5, 2008 - Rob Weaver
The Watergate scandal is older than most of the people on this planet. So why do we — "we" meaning journalists, mainly — keep adding the word “gate" to stories about scandals, or potential scandals.

The latest is "Troopergate." Before that, we had "Coingate." There also have been (in no particular order) Irangate, Spygate and Katrinagate.

For a longer list of such things, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scandals_with_%22-gate%22_suffix. That page claims there was a Whitewatergate, although that term was too long to fit in a headline, so it never was used. Shoot, Whitewater was a bit lengthy to use in large-point type.

By and large, the suffix only is used in headlines and story names ("slugs, in newsroom parlance). Still, it's well past time to retire the term. I mean, if not for a bungled, second-rate burglar at a now-famous hotel, would we be calling the latest probe of the firing of an Alaskan state employee "Trooperdome?"

Let's just refer to a scandal as a scandal, a probe as  a probe, and an investigation as an investigation. If we can't use those terms, perhaps it shouldn't be in the news at all.

 
 

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