December 22, 2005

When You Can Say What at This Time of Year (UPDATE 2)

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 9:07 am

This is the second update (third installment) of a series that began just before Thanksgiving looking at how the words “Christmas” and “holiday(s)” are being used. I have sensed a couple of tendencies over the years and wanted to see if my suspicions were accurate this Christmas season, and did Google News searches on November 23, December 7, and this morning to investigate.

Here are this morning’s results (Dec. 22, 9AM ET):

Shopping–
- “Holiday Shopping Season” (using quote marks)–9,100 hits.
- “Christmas shopping season” (using quote marks)–1,150 hits.

Layoffs–
- holidays layoffs (without quotes)–192 hits.
- holiday layoffs (without quotes)–690 hits.
- Christmas layoffs (without quotes)–572 hits.

As I found on the previous two days I investigated, it is clearly more acceptable to mention “Christmas” when layoffs are involved–about 39% of the time when compared to the total of the two “holiday layoff” searches, vs. about 12% of the time when comparing the two “shopping” searches.

But what is also startling is the trend of the results:

ChristmasHoliday

As the Christmas season has progressed, and as Christmas Day has approached, the term “holiday shopping” has become more, not less, likely to be used. But as the day we celebrate Christ’s birth has drawn nearer, the likelihood that “Christmas” will be used when the news topic is layoffs has increased.

It seems beyond dispute that there is a strong bias against using the word “Christmas” to describe not only the shopping season, as noted above, but also events, parades, and festivals that happen during the Christmas season. There is, however, a bit of an exception–”Christmas” is a word that is two to three times more acceptable to use when “Scrooge” employers are letting people go.

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