Thursday, August 05, 2010

Linguistic Patrol: Instead Of A Newspaper

In an article about a man finally convicted of a serious crime after committing a string of similar ones, an individual who got (some) of what he deserved thanks to a brave young witness, the stalwart defender of both decency and language who wrote the piece begins one paragraph, "This was a guy they had taken to trial in three other six sex* crimes...." [emphasis mine]

Gee, when did "guy" so used become part of formal written English? When was it a good idea to start a new paragraph with a floating "they?" Shouldn't the accused have been taken to trial for his crimes rather than in them?

I'm pleased a bad guy -- whoops, a bad man -- is behind bars; but between pontificating, newspaper editors used to edit, or at least boss around people who edited. Reporters quickly learned precisely and to what degree they could molest the language. I suppose "however you'd like" is a limit, too. Sort of.
* [Typo mine] log-in-eye syndrome. Arrgh.


Anonymous said...

What would be a "six" crime?

Offence against numeracy, perhaps?

Stranger said...

I suspect a competent editor at one of the Gannett rags would threaten management. At least, I have found none since the late Purser Hewett laid down his blue pencil.

That may be more of a reflection of the rapid deterioration of the US educational system. Several main line "colleges" have become notorious for turning out diploma holders who cannot read "See Jane run." And engineering school grads who do not understand the relationships contained in Ohm's Law.

However, I find the Gannett name to be appropriate. It means "guano" in several languages and the Company is the US's most pervasive manure spreader.


Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Man, this would be a great town for somebody to start a newspaper in.

Drang said...

Appropriate for an opinion of color piece, perhaps, but absolutely not in a news item!
I knew I was getting old when I started flinching every time a server at a restaurant addressed the party I was in as "you guys..." During one of my brief part time under-paid jobs after retiring from the Army, I even came up with an alternative that is familiar without being rude: "Folks." "Hi, folks, I'm Brittany and I'll be slinging hash for you this evening."
"Get off my lawn, Brittany!"

Anonymous said...

My husband worked at a newspaper before moving here. His job was merely to put stories in the paper, but he copy-edited it because if he didn't, no one would. This was borne out by stories which were put on the web by the actual editor on my husband's days off--nothing approaching a critical eye was ever turned on them. They were just thrown up. One reporter in particular was prone to not just editorializing in her stories but plagiarizing (blatantly so--she would copy & paste from news releases without even bothering to change the font to match).

Three years of that--whilst pulling down less than he'd made at Wal-Mart--burned any interest in staying in journalism out of him.

It's also worth noting, perhaps, that he was the only staffer at said paper whose degree had anything to do with journalism.

Ritchie said...

See also "busted well". I'd send the local stations grammar texts, but they'd just try to put batteries in them.

Bubblehead Les. said...

I believe they are making a sincere effort to write like/as/like/as the local TeeWee Talking Heads speak. Don't pick on them, it's not their fault they spent fours years as a Poli-Sci Major before they discovered there were no jobs for them and they switched to Uranalism.

Montie said...

Dang,this post comes along just in time to dampen my enthusiasm for having my officers start using "Sumdood" in reports instead of "Unknown Suspect", just because I enjoyed it when Tam used it in her post on the most recent Indy birthday shooting.

MO Bro said...

Makes you wonder when their going to start calling men a "Dude" and women a "Ho"...