Yahoo Axes Staff, Then Dumps Bodies

“My rhetoric was framed”, claims slasher…

Today’s announcement by Yahoo that it would lay off 10% of its staff came as little surprise to economic doomsayers. The news hit the stock markets like a cheap burrito, clearing out all other financial reports we’d been patiently digesting in this ailing economy. At this moment the bears are feasting on the bloated carcasses of the bulls.

This news does not, however, catch the eye of the Observatory. Instead we take pause to note the metaphors used to describe today’s announcement. While somewhat benign words such as reduce, downsize or adjust could’ve made the headlines, the tone that dominated was swift and brutal. A bloodbath: Jason visits Yahoo.

The four most popular metaphors used for the reports were “cut“, “chop“, “slash” and “axe – not unusual faces in the Layoff Headlines crowd. A gentler time might have popped in the value-added metaphors “trim”, “pare” or “shave”, each denoting the removal of excess rather than the indiscriminate vivisection of the workforce. There is no specificity to imply that only workers who are unnecessary are being targeted. This broad, random penstroke encourages a fear or anger response from the reader that may not have come into being with a less generalized threat – how sensational!

Of course newshacks could’ve removed, amputated or extracted a deemed gangrenous staff. They could’ve implied that Yahoo needs to lose the dead weight, lighten the load or trim the fat anoinking headlines with a porkly feel. Meanwhile, The Telegraph cast the word “shed” for the part, with its relatively dilute semantic (bloodshed, shed some light, shed one’s skin).

Decidedly trashy was AP’s tag “Yahoo To Dump 1500 Workers…”, implying that the workers were being treated as if garbage. Such a disposition was arguably the most critical of Yahoo from all the rhetoric we could quickly find. Then again, The Chronical’s “Day of the Locusts” turns the layoffs into a melodramatic insectidotal play, complete with high-flying villains and low-lying crop-people. In the word dump and by the implications made by locust, we find the management framed as evil, treating workers as worthless commodity, for casual disposal or indelicate consumption.

Yahoo spokesplumbers decided to water down the issue a little with “streamline our processes”. In this poorly sealed rhetorical envelope, Yahoo disguises the abrasive forces by revealing the finished product. Silently, the old lines they are removing in this streamlining process are becoming new lines at the unemployment office. Yahoo has learned much from Jason: no matter which deadly tool he uses to brutally chop, slash or axe, he always cleans up afterwards and hides the bodies.

By the time this post was published, the DOW had eased by 693 points. Jason Takes Manhattan.

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