Sunday, May 29, 2005

Save "charges" for criminal cases

Maybe I'm too sensitive to the word "charges." So be it. But we should be careful how we throw the word around because to most people, it has a criminal connotation.

Thus, the Wall Street Journal hed AIG Probes Bring First Charges was wrong in my view. So was the lede that said "In the first formal charges to come from the probes of American International Group Inc.'s accounting, New York state authorities in a civil lawsuit accused ... "

If the paper thought it had to go to the pains of using the redundant "civil lawsuit" to make sure no one thought it was criminal, then maybe the best course was to avoid "charges" in the first place. Call them allegations or claims.

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