Sunday, July 03, 2005

Newswriting For Dummies - Active or Annoying

The guilt in this post lies in every market across the country. I'm talking about the ongoing propagation of TV newspeak.

You know what I mean. Using inaccurate, sometimes confusing verb tenses...

"A man is shot shot to death..."

In a push to get everyone writing in a more active voice, what has been unleashed upon America are leads like that or sentences without verbs.

The following is from the Deborah Potter NewsLab article linked above:
Remember verbs? They're the action words that come between subjects and objects, telling what happened and when. Try locating one in this NBC Nightly News script: "Less resilient, local business. Dwight's concession stand, in the family three generations. Sales this summer off 75 percent." Not a verb in sight.

Another Potter article has some tips for better writing. Same goes for one from famed newswriter Mervin Block.


Jonathan Ahl said...

Amen, my brother in writing. Apparently writing in a style that is grammatically correct has been supplanted by the need to sound "NOW!".

Ironically, many of these stations also say they want people to write conversationally. What is conversational about "Three men die in a construction accident." Who talks like that?

(Scene: My kitchen)

Me: Hi honey, I'm home.

Anita: Hi honey. Hey, I saw an accident on Main Street on my way home from work. Do you know what happened?

Me: Yes I do. Two local people die in a traffic accident.

Yeah, that's conversational. Yeesh. Why the hell is this acceptable at any station, anywhere?

Edgar said...

Somehow, I'm guessing that's not how the scene goes.