Maybe poor writing, editing to blame for newspapers’ decline

It has been known for some time that newspaper readership is trending downward and newspapers are dying across the land. Reasons for this are not entirely clear but some have implicated the current generation’s fixation with social media. I would suggest another cause: Journalists can’t write well and editors can’t edit properly, which drives readers nuts.

Within the first section of the April 16 Herald there were (at least) three blatant errors: two by writers and one by an Associated Press writer. I detected these errors by scanning quickly; I did not read the section thoroughly, so there could be more.

One headline read, “at 84 and 155 pounds, Roger Sweet doesn’t think resembles the ’80s Masters of the Universe character he had a hand in creating,” does not make sense; presumably, the intention was to put “he” after “think” and before “resembles.”

The first paragraph of the front page lead story is lacking a key preposition. In a story about the state cutting trees along I-5, the reporter writes that the freeway drive will get less green, “at least a few years” when she clearly should have written “at least for a few years.”

On Page A8 an Associated Press article about a fire at Notre Dame in Paris states: “The…cathedral is home to incalculable works of art.” Obviously, the writers do not know the precise meaning of the adjective incalculable, which means vast beyond counting. This notion makes no sense as it is used since, although certainly numerous, the works of art at Notre Dame are hardly incalculable. One must suppose that the writers intended to use the adverb incalculably with the word valuable, which would make sense in the context of the art at Notre Dame.

Frankly, this is pathetic. If newspaper readership is shriveling it may be because readers cringe at the quality. We look to social media for semi-literate writing; newspapers we hold to a higher standard.

David W. Rash


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