Just look at it.
OK, English, like any other language, is a living, evolving thing, and maybe I’m just showing my age, but it pains me to see published work of the horribly low standard shown above.Â It always makes me cringe when people (whose job it is, for goodness’ sake) throw words together in such a slapdash and incomprehensible way.Â And by the way, yes, that is the whole quote.Â There is no more of this particular headline.Â That’s it.
I can just about remember a time when journalists took pride in writing, and writing well.Â Typesetters would take great care not to leave ‘widows’, or to split words badly – particularly not in headlines – and the text would be written in a clear and easily understood manner.Â Many journalists wrote excellent English, and most at least knew how to spell and use punctuation correctly.Â Â There would even be semi-colons!
Those days seem to be gone.
My father was a typesetter for a London newspaper up until the early sixties when he was made redundant.Â He took a great deal of pride in his work, as did all of his colleagues, and he always said two things:Â 1) as soon as a ‘broadsheet’ went ‘tabloid’ it was the kiss of death for good standards of journalism, and 2) when typesetting was computerised, it would be all downhill from there.
Heaven knows why either observation should necessarily be true, but time appears to have proved him right.Â Sure, there are computer typesetters who produce excellent work, and there may possibly be tabloids out there which are great newspapers in the traditional sense … but I’ve never actually seen one.
In the case of both local and national newspapers, well, many of them ring both bells.Â Mediocre puns and journalism of the execrable standard shown at the top of the page abound, and the abuse of English sometimes makes me want to weep.
I used to cherish a clipping from a local paper which related the story of a stolen doctors’ bag containing various medical instruments.Â The journalist, in the space of just a few sentences, started out manfully trying to give everything its proper name, got caught up in multisyllabic words with latin roots, tripped over his own overheated mental dictionary and gave up on correct terminology in favour of the vernacular.Â I’m sorry to tell you that I lost this particular clipping, because it was a real gem.
To be fair, our beloved leaders have, over the years, hacked away at a previously superb English teaching curriculum and seem to have left us with several generations of phonetic spellers who lack a thorough knowledge of grammar rules, and a succession of despairing teachers scrabbling for a toehold in the landslide of standards and constantly changing curriculum guidelines.
There are many young people who speak and write our language extremely well , and a lot of them do so better than I.Â Then there are those for whom the written word isn’t that important, and that’s fine too, because we all have different strengths; let’s face it, I might be able to write a mean blog, but show me a broken down car and it’s likely to stay broken unless I can pay someone to fix it, because a beautifully constructed sentence (with or without semi-colons) isn’t going to mend a broken fan-belt*.Â But if you don’t have a love of language, and can’t spell or handle grammar, why on earth would you want to be a professional writer?
And that, dear readers, begs two more questions:
Why are they being employed as writers? Â And where the fuck are the proof-readers?
*Or whatever the heck cars have these days.
**I felt that I needed to add the word ‘professional’ in that last long paragraph because I don’t want anyone to feel I’m being hypercritical of fellow bloggers. I understand typos and the odd mistake as well as anyone, I really do!