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Journalists & English

Posted by Lewis on January 19, 2004

In Reply to: 'Bog Standard' - Journalists Can't use English posted by Cliff on January 14, 2004

: And why do journalists use such appallingly poor English anyway?

As somebody who, from time to time, gets paid to write, I find that generalisation provocative. Coming from somebody who begins a sentence with one of English's good old conjunctive 'and's in technical breach of correct form, it is also hypocritical.

A friend of mine is the sports reporter for a local paper and, from time to time, his column contains mistakes - but as reporters still sometimes dial in their copy to have it typed up at the newspaper, the typist and editor could and should be blamed for many of those errors. What you see is what the editor presents.
I have had accurate a copy reduced in value by being 'hacked about' by my editor - yet still the by-line had my name on it. When you write professionally, you are part of a production and others control what is printed. Many editors have got that position through distorting and misrepresenting 'the truth' to make it more 'newsworthy', so you cannot expect them to feel constrained to the un-embellished copy given to them.

So far as language is concerned - editors want impact - short sentences and unchallenging vocabulary and who is to say that the copy that you see has not been scourged by those black demons they call editors?