I’m scared for journalism.
Newspapers are shutting down, jobs are being cut, businesses are being “consolidated” and fewer people are subscribing to print publications.
But even worse than that is the quality of the journalism (and journalists) being produced.
As a copy editor, it’s my job to care about spelling, grammar and style.
Reporters should care as well. How can you write a good story if you don’t care about spelling or structure?
I recently edited a few stories which were poorly written. Dailies usually have exceptional writers, whereas weeklies often hire kids right out of j-school (or worse, still in j-school, as interns). These stories came out of the weeklies.
Unfortunately, good spelling and good writing cannot be taught. You can get better by practising, but you either have potential or you don’t. That said, diligence and rules can be drilled into your head. Can’t spell your way out of a paper bag? Train yourself to double- and triple-check your work. Keep a dictionary and a style guide nearby when you write.
Anyway, spelling wasn’t great, names were misspelled, there was improper punctuation and a heavy reliance on quotes, with very little in between.
“Quote,” Joe said. “More stuff.
“Talking some more.”
Then Joe said some more stuff.
“More quote,” he said. “Stuff.”
Joe said some other stuff.
Don’t be lazy. You can’t just gather your quotes, barf out a story and file it without looking it over first, especially if you’re an inexperienced journalist.
I haven’t put much thought into this blog post, partly because it’s just a blog post. Nobody’s going to read this. I’m choosing to spell properly, but I’m also choosing to simply type what immediately comes to me.
As a journalist with a job to do and people who count on you, you have to hold yourself to a higher standard.
Otherwise, don’t complain when traditional media dies out in favour of Buzzfeed-like stuff (no offence, Buzzfeed) that people read on the shitter or on a boring bus ride. After all, you helped kill it.