Saturday, November 17, 2007

Writing Versus Typewriting

Not to go all English-teacher on what is probably some intern scraping a few college credits and a couple bucks for pud work, but I see a lot of this these days in the so-called professional media. It's tempting to do a close line-by-line reading, because there's something in practically every sentence here to quibble with, but I'll just hit a couple of highlights.

"It's kind of a shock when that kind of stuff happens with a teacher," Richland High School Senior and neighbor of Eve, John Clearly said. "Especially at Richland because you don't think that that kind of stuff happens that much."

Cleary is a student at Richland High and Eve's neighbor. He heard rumors, but cops said the scandal all started when a student came forward.

She had lurid stories, claiming Eve was teaching more than just how to read music. Those claims led police to find two other potential victims.

"He seemed like a teacher, I mean, he seemed like everybody else," Cleary said.

Fundamental errors all over the place, starting with the repetitive nature of the neighbor/student's (whatever his name actually is, "Clearly" or "Cleary") comments (which add nothing to the story; it's as if someone still thinks this obvious "he seemed like such a reg'lar guy" shit is anything more than a rote cliché). The repetition occurs again in describing who Clearly/Cleary is in subsequent paragraphs. And the "teaching more than just how to read music" bit sounds like a Dateline lede, which I suppose is actually a good thing for this sort of sensationalistic journalism.

"He was there for a long time," Cleary said. "Everyone said he was there forever."

The school put Eve on paid administrative leave last month to begin their own investigation. Eve stepped down shortly after that. He's been with the Richland schools for 15 years.

It's a redundancy within a redundancy; not only are Clear(l)y's parting comments redundant between themselves, but both are made completely useless by the next paragraph's accurate tabulation of Eve's tenure at the school.

It ends with a burp, rather than a whimper or a bang:

Eve's wife was there to see the arrest go down, but she didn't want to talk to Action News.

Love the Mod Squad lapse into the vernacular -- "go down", man. Some heavy shit, bro-ham.

These are small, nit-picky things, and I suppose I'm a small, nit-picky person for pulling a random article out of the ether for the red-pencil treatment. But I read too many articles these days about students arriving at college campuses and immediately having to take remedial math and English classes. How the fuck do they get in in the first place? Don't they have tests for that shit? Why do my tax dollars go to coddle college students who didn't bother learning high-school skills?

Also I confess some fascination with people who are incompetent at their jobs, especially jobs in the entertainment industry (which is what news, even local news, really is), which people do because they want to be in that line of work. It's one thing to be indifferent to the rigors and conventions of a job you work out of necessity, quite another to be ignorant of even the fundamentals of your chosen profession.

Local news is particularly bad about that anyway, but it filters up into the national levels more frequently than most people would think. Misspelled chyrons on CNN are not uncommon, and go hand-in-hand with sloppy analysis and poorly-researched commentary. Everyone makes typos, and lots of people make fairly simple spelling snafus; what I'm getting at is when the lack of attention and skill are glaringly obvious. I dunno, some days it really grinds my gears, dammit.

1 comment:

thedevilzone said...

"Docomunents". Hee hee.