Whenever criticizing grammar and punctuation, you run the risk of being labeled punctilious. Worse still, since even many good writers involved in Internet journalism disgorge the odd typo, there's the chance you will come to be regarded as an expert on the glass-house real estate market. Yet there's no doubt that the much lamented decline in journalism is about style as well as substance. And, just occasionally, you encounter an example of it that demands some attention.
Such is a Channel 13 Action News (ABC) article titled "Las Vegas Mayor Goodman rejects Obama invitation," a piece that is, you might say, plagiarism proof. It brings to mind that oft-heard journalistic advice that, put loosely, instructs one to write at an eighth-grade level. Only, I didn't know it referred to the eighth grade in a non-English-speaking country -- when writing in English. That is to say, it's obvious the piece was not penned by a native English speaker. The article is so bad that it's impossible to print all the errors contained therein without running afoul of Fair Use Doctrine. So, since I don't write for The New York Times and my name isn't Zachary Kouwe or Jayson Blair, I'll just say that I counted nine major mistakes (and I'm omitting much) in the 333-word piece and will present the most glaring examples. I won't provide corrections, however, as these excerpts speak for themselves. And if a reader can't hear what they say, I suggest that he has a future at ABC News.
First we have, "Mayor Goodman has more important things like attend budget meetings during a major shortfall than meet with President Barack Obama . . . ."
Next we have two typos in one sentence: "Mayor Goodman not backing down after the president used Las Vegas the example of where not to go . . . ."
Then we have this mangled, convoluted head-scratcher, "Invitations Mayor Oscar Goodman respectfully or depending on your point of view not so respectfully declines."
And finally there is the second-to-last line, "What do you think about Mayor Goodman rejecting to meet with President Obama?" the closest thing to pidgin English I have ever seen from a news outlet -- and this includes foreign sources.
Oh, I should mention that the piece has no by-line, which saves the "writer" not only embarrassment but also a possible visit from the INS.
How did such illiterate scribbling make it into print? Did an ABC reporter wheedle his landscaper into writing his news piece? Is the listing Lamestream Media so financially strapped that they're hiring illegal labor?
Jesting aside, it's no stretch to say that this is the result of America's affirmative-action mentality. And, if you think it's much ado about nothing, know that it reflects a society to which standards increasingly mean nothing. We are creating generations of ignorant, shiftless slackers, people who are only eternally vigilant about seeking pleasure. And think about this: If many modern Americans cannot adequately perform even simple functions, how can they tackle complex problems? How can we expect them to be able to solve our budget and financial woes or create healthy families?
We are descending, pell-mell, toward Idiocracy. But, hey, man, like, you know, I get ABC's drift, you know. So what's my problem? Well, my bad, dude, my bad. Yo, yes, we can!