“Gusher,” “Disaster,” “Blowout”: What to Call the Gulf (Spill)?

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Day 62 and we’re well beyond the point where “oil spill” does justice to the slow motion tragedy unfolding in the Gulf. Spill, of course, suggest that a finite quantity has been released. But not only is the Gulf gusher still gushing, we still don’t know exactly how much it’s spewing. The latest federal estimates the well could be leaking as much as 65,000 barrels per day. An internal BP document, meanwhile, indicates that it could reach 100,000 barrels a day if the worst-case-scenario plays out.

So how should those of us reporting on the disaster refer to it? “Spill” has been the noun of choice, likely because it is both short and the term we are most familiar with based on previous oil accidents, like the Exxon Valdez. But this piece in the Biloxi Sun Herald yesterday raises a good point: Why don’t reporters start referring to it by something more accurate?

Some of the ideas floated in the piece:

Gusher
Catastrophe
Life-altering catastrophe
Debacle
Calamity
Technological disaster
Big mess
Leak
Blowout

I figured we should throw this out to readers as well. What do you think reporters should be calling this?

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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