Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Newspaper Copy and the Death of Writing

January 29, 2007

There seems to be a lot of bland writing out there these days. Ok, I’ll call a spade a spade, it’s insipid. These words with no voice, no ideas, no sense of meter or beat; for someone who can appreciate the subtleties and fineries of the English language, it can be painful at times. It doesn’t have to be all Shakespeare, or glitz, but just well done and showing some effort went into those keystrokes.

It’s the newspapers that are to blame. Cost cutting has meant the closing down of foreign bureaus, shedding writers with great expertise, rushing stuff into print before giving it a thorough edit. Many papers these days are no more than shells for AP, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse (AFP). And throw in syndicated material from the world-reknowed papers (Guardian, Wall Street Journal), and the second tier newspapers are virtually one man operations; just printing machines for advertising.

This straight up, nothing but the facts approach is deadly. Ideas are what spark the mind, ideas are what can trigger a reaction. Presenting ‘data’ is not writing.

Or to put it another way, there is nothing that says style cannot be married with substance. You don’t have to choose just one, you can go with both. In fact, the style can often reinforce the message, make it more effective. Make it more readable.

There ain’t nothing wrong with style. All the best writers now and then have always had a distinctive voice. It’s humanity and it’s humane.

Down with machine language!