The Eddie Haskellization of Today’s Reporting

A discussion in a recent issue of Editor and Publisher referred to ‘verbal fossils,’ references to old television shows and characters that most of today’s readers just don’t recognize. Calling Tim Geithner ├ín Eddie Haskell’ is fun for us oldsters but what about people who never saw an episode of ‘Leave it to Beaver?’

With the skewed viewing on hundreds of cable channels, there are not as many touchstone descriptions that everybody saw or remembers. E and P’s article warned that those writers who must harken back with references to people named Cleaver risk alienating readers.

For people who don’t have television, these tele-adjectives just pass them by. But the fear, says Ralph Keyes in the story, is that these types of phrases are what’s keeping teens and young adults tuned out. “The implicit message seems to be: ‘Hey if you don’t know what we’re talking about, maybe you should butt out. Haven’t you got some Twittering to do?”