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Friday, November 17, 2006

"Loser": News & Record reporter responds

In response to my initial e-mail regarding the use of "losing" when describing unsuccessful electoral candidates, Gerald Witt replied back:
Mr. Knight,

Thank you for reading the News & Record and for contacting me.

Two tenants of journalism are accuracy and brevity. Thus the choice of the words, "lose, lost, losing and loser."

This is a common descriptor for those who do not win elections or anything else, as defined in most dictionaries.

In writing, using "lose" makes more actively-worded sentences than the phrase "candidate who did not win an election." It's also more efficient and direct.

Thank you,


I sent him back the following e-mail:
Simply using "unsuccessful" would more than suffice.

Chris Knight

To which he immediately provided a follow-up:
Ah, good point. I'll remember that.

Thank you,


I'm heartened that Gerald got back to me, and that our conversation will lead him to reflect this in his reporting in the future. I like to think that however things work in the scheme of things, that his words will make a powerful connection in many people's minds... although I wish that connection didn't have to be made at all.

Maybe to most people, "losing" is synonymous with "not winning". Unfortunately I believe that this is the case with a lot of people who would otherwise consider running for public office: they fear that if they don't win, that this marks them down as "losers". When it's not that way at all: it only really becomes "losing" when a person has decided in his own mind that he is going to think of himself as "lost" if he doesn't come through all the way in an election.

General Nathaniel Greene did not "win" the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. Everyone knows that. But very, very few historians will argue that Greene did not guarantee American victory at Yorktown after his thorough thrashing of Cornwallis's forces. Does anyone dare label Nathaniel Greene as a "loser" in the history books?

Conversely, Adolf Hitler won election in the largest margin of victory in German history. I doubt that in hindsight many people nowadays are going to be quick to call that a "victory" by any stretch.

Within the concept of a game for sake of the game itself, there is such a thing as "losing". But you only really "lose" in life if you don't even try. And the worst kind of losing is not choosing to try at all even when you know that something is wrong and won't get any better unless you do try.

There are very few who do actually win. There are many more who do not win. But sadly there are vast too many who do not even bother to play...

...And they are the only ones who really "lose" in life.


Anonymous said...

How did Ron Price sin against you?

Chris Knight said...

The same way he sinned against you: he deceived us into believing he was an honorable man that we could trust with our children and our money.