An emailer brought up a question worth pondering today.
Pointing to a story about a developer’s plan to build a new hotel in the Crossroads, he noticed development reporter Kevin Collison refers to “two flags” in the project: a Marriott Courtyard and Residence Inn.
“I learned long ago that hotels use the term ‘flag,’” wrote my emailer. “but should the paper be using business jargon like that? I guess it is a business article”
I like this question, because it’s one that shows how journalists have to straddle two worlds sometimes. For someone who covers a niche beat intensively, it’s a requirement of the job to become familiar with the lingo used by the people on that beat.
But at the same time, the readership of a source such as The Kansas City Star is a general audience. Nobody can expect everyone to understand technical terms or shop talk used by insiders.
In this case, I don’t find it too much of a stretch. I wasn’t familiar with that particular term, but I also went right past it the first time I read the story. I understood what it meant, perhaps implicitly. But your mileage may vary.