Thursday, 16 February 2012

Nicola Morgan was talking about

blogging yesterday. (There are some excellent ideas there over on Help I need a Publisher - do go and look.)
It also made me think, yet again, about the newspaper columnists in our state and national newspapers.
They are "bloggers". The venue is different. The audience is different. Nevertheless they are still bloggers.
Some of them are, of course, journalists. It is their business to research and to write. One or two of them do this very well, most of them do it rather badly.
They will tell you this is not their fault. There are time restraints. A news story breaks and they have to concentrate on getting that out, not on writing a column about something else. Reporting is not an exact science. It is subjective. Writing a column is also subjective. (This blog is too.)
The English teacher I had in my last year at high school also taught language skills to the journalists at the state newspapers we had back then. There are still at least two members of the current staff who were taught by her. They were mere "cub" reporters in those days but she taught them to use language. It shows. The other staff do not write in the same way. After three years under her tutelage these people were able to write - and write rapidly. They were not aiming to turn out literature but they were aiming to turn out something that could be read.
Editorial policy changed again some little while back. My father now complains that the paper is difficult to read. He is right. The language sounds stilted. It does not flow. It is more difficult to take the information in.
Moving from the news items to the columns there is a difference in language style. There is a journalist taught by my old English teacher. His columns flow. I rarely agree with what he has to say but I can read him. He taught another staff member who is, more often than not, readable. There is a highly controversial columnist who writes extremely well. People who loathe him will read his columns. There are two former politicians. One is much older than the other. The older one writes extremely well. The language flows. The younger one writes well enough but the language does not flow in the same way. There is a university professor with a regular political column. His language reflects his academic background. He sounds as if he is talking to his students.
All these people write differently. I wonder if I could pick them out if they were all asked to write two hundred words on the same subject? And I wonder,  what I would sound like to them?

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