Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Our Illiterate News Writers

When it comes to watching local news on television, my wife and I seem to agree that ABC7 News is at least marginally a cut above the other networks. They seem to know how to keep the chatter-to-content ratio under control; and their reporters tend to be pretty good about convincing us that they understand what they are saying. The same, alas, cannot be said about what happens when those reporters create text for ABC7 Web pages.

Last night was a big local news night. A trial harvest of 850 pounds of Dungeness crab was about to be tested, first to determine whether the threat of neurotoxins had passed and second (and more subjectively) to assess quality and determine a fair price for product. Since Dungeness crab is one of my guilty pleasures, I have been following this pretty closely, more through the Web site than by watching television. Imagine, then, my surprise to encounter the sort of lead sentence that used to send the entire staff of The New Yorker into fits of uncontrollable laughter. The reporter was Melanie Woodrow; and, given current work practices, it is reasonable to assume that she typed this herself:
With their lively hoods on the line, crab fishermen are eagerly awaiting the results of a quality test that will determine the price set for crab.
Apparently, Woodrow is more accustomed to writing about fashion (What the well-dressed crabber is wearing?) than about quality of product. This would be a great excuse to joke about what happens when editors are no longer in the loop, but my guess is that neither Woodrow nor any of her colleagues care very much about the blooper that emerged from poor editing.

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