You don’t have to go very far into cyberspace (is that still a term?) to find a lot of bad writing. The worst is from “normal” people on social media sites. However, one would think that news organizations would have figured out a way to keep their headlines and articles free of bad writing and editing practices. But they haven’t.
It’s a hobby of mine to collect crippled writing snippets from news articles I read. The examples below span a couple years. I’m not going to identify the sources (although if a source is named in a snippet, I left it), because this article isn’t about pointing specific fingers but rather having a laugh at some of the so-called journalism being thrust upon us these days.
I’ve separated the entry sections into headlines and body text. Entries are blue.
Bad writing in headlines
Parents of girl’s 1987 death charged with murder in France
How can you be the parents of a death?
Great white shark found washed up on Massachusetts with red hue on face, underbelly
That must have been one hell of a big shark.
Russian Gold-Backed Cryptocurrency Maybe Used For Weapons Sales
May Be, not Maybe. Some people think that if two words sound good together, there’s nothing wrong with making one word out of them.
Trump awards medal soldier for heroic action in Afghanistan
The soldier was made out of a medal? Or may be (ha-ha) it means Trump awarded a medal soldier to someone who took heroic action.
Woman Who Stareted at Ex-Boyfriend’s Home Caused Much Damage
You should always leave the stareting to the experts.
Hover text over a photo:
“$250 Mansion” – on a photo in an article about a $250 million mansion.
Fractures in body copy
Denise Stokes of Six Flags said in a statement to FOX5: “The safety of our guests is always our highest priority,” said Stokes in a statement.
Apparently, it was very important for readers to know that Stokes’ quote came from a statement.
A North Carolina teacher was reportedly suspended after a video surfaced of working her part-time job as a pole dance instructor.
This is bad writing at its best.
The Alliance Defending Freedom called the breadth of the censorship is staggering.
The writer originally used “said” and revised it to “called” but forgot to take out the “is.”
“That’s crazy,” neighbor Deborah Pollard told WSOC-TV. They’re finding all kinds of ways to do crazy things nowadays aren’t they.
So, is that second sentence more of what Deborah said, or the writer’s opinion?
A man Saturday morning called police several times Saturday morning and threatened to blow up a BP gas station in Bergenfield, police said.
In case anybody missed it, this happened on SATURDAY MORNING.
Earlier this year, the Chinese government cut i ts auto import tariff to 15% from 25%, but just weeks later increased its tariff on US auto imports to 40%.
“i ts” – at first, I thought it was a Chinese phrase.
He faces felony charges of burglar, residential entry and theft in Lake Superior Court in that case.
The dummy went and got himself charged with burglar. That means for the rest of his life, he’ll be known as a burglary.
Finally, a quote from a social media page, which I include here only because “Livingston” is a professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
“OK, officially, I now hate white people,” Livingston wrote. “I am a white people, for God’s sake, but can we keep them—us—us out of my neighborhood?”
With one stroke, Livingston has put whites back 100 years.
So much for that. In order to not come off as one who thinks he’s above everybody else, I guess I should say, every writer makes mistakes. Every writer produces bad writing from time to time, although with good writers, most of it comes during the first draft. Keep in mind, too, that there are two types of bad writing: errors because the writer didn’t know any better, and errors because the writer (or editor) was just lazy.
READ THE NEXT INSTALLMENT: “SLOPPY JOURNALISM“
This article from Harvard Business Review, “Bad Writing Is Destroying Your Company’s Productivity,” talks about bad writing in documents companies use for internal communications.