Poor Reporting

To whom it may concern,

I just read a news story posted by your editorial team at the following URL:

http://www.kirotv.com/news/14652077/detail.html (pops)

You should be sincerely embarrassed by the poor quality of the writing and editing that went into the publication of that article. The need to quickly report on current events should not be trumped by the need to use language properly. The “understandability” of the article suffers greatly, and your credibility as an authoritative source of news likewise suffers.

If you look at the third and fourth “paragraphs” (which I must put in quotes, because they are not paragraphs in the true sense), you’ll see that the second “paragraph” merely attempts to reiterate what the first “paragraph” states, but fails to do so because the terms are inconsistent:

“The other plane, a single-engine Cessna 182, landed at Thun Field in Puyallup, about 10 miles southeast of Tacoma, with damage to the housing of one of its landing gears, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said.

“Kenitzer said that plane had damage to its landing gear.”

It remains unclear if the housing to one of the landing gears’ housings is damaged, one of the landing gears itself is damage, or if the landing gear in general is somehow damaged. The relevance of this information to the actual story is questionable in any respect. One would presume the item of interest would be the survival of the two individuals in the plane that actually crashed. That item is not mentioned, of course, until the tersely worded last sentence of the article.

Of the fifteen “paragraphs” in the article, only one had more than one sentence in it. If you think back to grade-school grammar, you may recall that paragraphs are supposed to have a structure, with an introduction, supporting statements and a conclusion. In general this article could be more accurately described as an itemized list of points rather than prose in any sense of the term. To your credit, though, I don’t spot any sentence fragments among the otherwise appalling example of writing you have posted on your web site. Also notable is the correct use of “its” where appropriate.

“Paragraphs” seven through eleven all begin with variants of “[Bud] Williams (said, told, etc.)…” This is another excellent example of why you should attempt to structure your writing in real paragraphs as the repetitious and staccato nature of the writing makes the reading of the article tedious. The only positive note on this section of the article is that some attempt is made to avoid verbatim repetition of the sentences.

By the way, I am a computer programmer by profession and a mathematician by training, so by rights, I should not have a better grasp of language and of writing than those who ply their trade in it. In summary, please stop attempting to dumb-down your writing and your audience, and perhaps consider taking some writing classes at your local college.

Mike Litherland

Note: This is pretty obviously an email I sent to the kirotv.com editorial email account. It was summarily rejected by their mail server, which perhaps goes to show how interested they are in the accuracy and editorial content of their articles. The article snippits above are copyright, but their fair use is permitted here under provisions of U.S. law regarding review. I did save the entire article locally, in case the sneaky buggers decide to change it.