Posted by: bkivey | 6 January 2011


Great Moments in Journalism

Hodin: ” . . . the only tool diplomacy has is language. It is of the utmost importance that the meaning be crystal clear.”

And so it might seem with journalism. The local paper of record, though, seems to have taken a page from Lewis Carroll, as you will see from a letter I wrote last month following an editorial appearing on 16 December.

Dear Folks,       

I would like to be considered for a position as copy editor with the paper. I would be happy to work as an hourly 1099 contractor and telecommute if that is convenient for you. I believe that I am a good candidate for the job because I possess knowledge of the English language demonstrably superior to some folks currently writing for the paper.

Examples of work:

From the editorial titled “Once rich, now frightened: Gregoire lines up painful cuts” published 16 December 2010:

“If you felt the ground shake this week, it wasn’t seismic action off our and Washington’s coast, but it did come from our neighbor to the north.”

That construction is a bit awkward. I would suggest:

“If you felt the ground shake this week, it wasn’t seismic activity off the Northwest coast, but it did come from our neighbor to the north.”

It doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to think that the reader will be able infer that the neighbor referred to is Washington and not Canada.

This is a relatively minor quibble; a more egregious offense occurs later in the same editorial:

“We could take Gregoire’s queue, too, on public pay and benefits.”

Without consulting a dictionary I can think of at least half a dozen definitions for the word ‘line’. ‘Queue’, on the other hand, only has one definition of which I am aware and may be generally stated as “the sequential ordering of members of a set.” As written the example sentence is non-sensical. ‘Line’ and ‘queue’ may be synonymous, but are not always so. In the context of the given sentence, they are not.

While I did not major in English or Journalism, I do know how to read with my ears, so to speak, and I do know what words mean. As newspapers across the country face declining circulation, it would seem that they would want to put out the best product possible, and that would include knowing how to use language, the primary tool of their trade.

 No response as of this date.

Great Moments in Progressive Thinking

From the 3 June 2010 Wall Street Journal OpinionJournal website:

“In yet another nod to the protection of fledgling self-esteem, an Ottawa children’s soccer league has introduced a rule that says any team that wins a game by more than five points will lose by default,” reports the National Post.

In America we have the so-called “mercy rule” where a contest is called if one team scores a set number more than the opposition. Apparently in Ottawa it’s deemed acceptable to tell one group of kids that superior ability will be punished (come to think of it, that does prepare them for progressive taxation) and the other group that inferior ability will be subsidized by society. Nothing promotes mental health like being given things you haven’t earned. Even on the literal level playing field, results matter more than opportunity.

Ad of the Week

From the local Craigslist:

Need ride from aloha to airport Thursday 1/6 (Aloha-airport)
Will pay for gas and 20 bucks. I need to be there by 1030am… I will delete this when i find someone. Thanks

Aloha is the community immediately (in my case, about 100 yards) to the west of where I live. The local regional government has spent billions of dollars to build and operate a pretty good transit system. There are at least three bus and one light rail line serving Aloha. All of them terminate or pass through a transit center in my town from where one can catch a train to the airport. This is, in fact, how I and many other people get to the airport. It takes about ninety minutes door-to-door and costs $2.35.

Great Moments in Public Service Announcements

An old Chris Rock PSA. Very funny and most definitely not NSFW.


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