Since the early days of radio news, the people at newspapers have called us names or hurled accusations. Shallow. Lacking context. Headline service without substance.
And since the early days of radio news, we have been firing back: Too much detail. “You work on only one story a day?” “It takes a bunch of people to put out that one story?” And worst of all: It’s yesterday’s news.
Well, for the most part, radio news is dead. That’s because radio news either doesn’t exist or meets the anti-criteria in the first paragraph.
But writing news for on-line reading is the same as writing for radio. What works best is conversational style and sometimes a needle in the balloon of conventional grammar.
WMCA, New York used to have a slogan: “No sooner done than said.”
The Associated Press had a slogan “Deadline Every Minute” which was truer than true at the broadcast wire that served thousands of radio and TV networks and stations.
And people making the transition from working for papers to working for websites now face the same time deadline.
Oh, say the ink-stained wretches, but we have to be careful. Check every fact. Make sure we get the quotations right. Yes, you do and so do we. But if you do, how come you get so much wrong so often?
The newspapers with true transparency often have elephantine correction sections. With radio and the internet, we either fix it right away or at worst during the next hourly report.
So, welcome to the 21st century, ladies and gentlemen of the ink world. Some of you will catch on. The rest of you? Well… there are schools of communication everywhere and you can either learn or teach. And there’s always the Dark Side: public relations.
-Newspapers fail -- and always have -- when they locate their newsrooms where they’re more than staggering distance from a decent saloon.
-Here’s how to help kill the language: either start your own dialect which no one will understand or wrap it in the straightjacket of the APA or MLA stylebooks or Miss Grundy’s 19th Century grammar book.
--People complain that a certain famous and nearly defunct retail store is awarding zillions of dollars in bonuses to upper echelon executives. But it’s truly worth the money. It’s not easy to find a death squad that can make mass murder look like an accident.
--People are making a huge fuss over the apparent threat of suicide by a cast member of Saturday Night Live, Pete Davidson. And yes, it would be a shame if he offed himself. But there are thousands of others in the same boat as Pete and where’s the fuss about them?
--The so-called President wants to find out if it’s legal for Saturday Night Live to make fun of him. Maybe he should ask one or another of his lawyer friends. Michael Cohen comes to mind as do Crooked Hillary, Little Marco, Low Energy Jeb, Lyin’ Ted, for starters.
-“If the stock market is going to have a Santa Claus Rally this year, it must peel Santa off the pavement first.” -- Bloomberg Newsletter
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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