The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

84° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Rhetorical questions: Language matters in effective communication

    No one seems to remember rhetoric, an important facet of human interaction, like they should.

    Rhetoric is about effectively communicating. That may sound basic, because isn’t the goal of all language to communicate in the most effective way possible? And yet, these days, it seems like people don’t quite grasp that fact.

    Rhetoric is also a word that usually seems associated with complex ideas, and academics and politicians throw it around like they’re playing catch. The simplicity of the term, however, shouldn’t be underestimated when it applies to even the most basic human exchanges.

    For example, say you wanted a piece of cake from someone. An example of using poor rhetoric would be to say “hey, asshole, give me that cake right now.” Even saying “give me cake,” isn’t effective or skillful.

    A better route would be to say “hello, may I please have a piece of cake, sir?” Sure, you may sound a bit like Oliver Twist, but the politeness is probably going to mean you walk away with that cake.

    Using good rhetoric means choosing the right words for the situation. Offensive language and name-calling aren’t effective ways to get a point across, and that’s why it’s usually better to employ terminology which accurately describes the subject without hurting feelings.

    True, anyone is allowed to say what they want, think or feel — but that doesn’t guarantee that we always get what we want.

    As this semester’s copy chief of the Arizona Daily Wildcat, it’s my job to ensure that the paper effectively communicates. That’s why I, and my staff, sit in front of computers for hours on end, reading every story that goes into the paper or online, to make sure the Wildcat is using the best rhetoric possible.

    There’s always room for improvement, though, and thanks to the evolution of language, there are always new things to consider regarding rhetoric.

    For example, the publishing of last week’s controversial comic strip highlighted the need to re-evaluate our editorial policies, and opened up a discussion about coverage of the LGBTQ community with leaders from ASUA Pride Alliance.

    Pride Alliance interns emphasized the need to reevaluate the rhetoric we use in coverage of the LGBTQ community. It’s an area we’re making our best effort to improve upon.

    That doesn’t mean other groups are going to be ignored during this re-evaluation process. The Wildcat is committed to making sure our rhetoric is appropriate and fair to all parties involved.

    At the moment, the Wildcat uses style guidelines put forth by the AP, in addition to our own in-house style manual.

    Now, and for the future, the Wildcat will be utilizing additional style guides, such as the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association’s stylebook and Newswatch’s Diversity Style Guide. Observing the rules and guidelines of various sources like these creates more awareness in the newsroom.

    The Wildcat always wants to keep our readers up to date on our latest policies, and that’s why we wanted to keep you in the loop on our desire to improve our rhetoric. Language is important and powerful. To communicate effectively (the goal of any newspaper), good rhetoric is a necessity.

    — Jason Krell is the copy chief for the Daily Wildcat. He can be reached at or on Twitter via @Jason_Krell .

    More to Discover
    Activate Search