Monday 6 October 2014
Living in a small country town means that we are subjected to regional news broadcasts from a satellite or subsidiary TV channel that is owned by a large city channel. In turn, this means that the news anchor, let’s call him Guy A, all of the reporters, and the weather woman, we’ll call her Gal B, are all casual speakers. Guy A and Gal B are probably considered stalwarts of the station, as they’ve been working there for positively forever, and that means practically since the station was started. Almost.
Now, normally being casual wouldn’t be a bad thing. Casual is great. Who doesn’t love casual clothing? Or a casual, relaxed attitude? What I don’t love about these reporters, anchor, and weather woman is that they have appeared to embrace a particular style of reporting and to-camera work. Sloppy casual. And as a result of this particular style of reporting, the news broadcasts that are relevant to the region in which I live appear to be for morons. The news has been dumbed down because the anchor, reporters, and weather woman apparently can’t speak formal English.
Competitions have become comps. Temperatures are now temps. Kilometres are Ks. Thinks and believes have become reckons. Worse still, the anchor and reporters smile whilst delivering sombre stories.
The above are just a few examples of the rubbish that issues forth from the reporters, anchor, and weather woman. I think that this lack of formal language brings the news down to a level that implies viewers are unintelligent and uncouth. What happened to speaking properly? When did delivering the news become so informal? Why is it acceptable to pass off this slack way of speaking as the norm? I know I tend to fall on the Grammar Nazi side of the English language spectrum – it’s a side effect of having a university degree that encompasses teaching English – however, the fact that news readers and reporters are so informal, so casual, is shoddy journalism.
Being a small town, we also have our own lil local newspaper. Again, I ask: when did journalism become the career of slackers who appear to have no grasp of the English language? I have always been under the impression that newspapers were edited. Perhaps that was a silly assumption to hold. Our local newspaper is, more often than not, filled with grammar, spelling and punctuation errors, and incorrectly named people in photographs and articles. You see, I always thought that the editor checked the articles and photographs to ensure that errors were corrected or, at the very least, kept to a minimum. It seems that those things are not considered important to journalists and editors these days. It is entertaining though when those same journalists and editors attempt to place blame upon, and crush our education system and teachers when literacy and numeracy becomes a popular topic to discuss in the media. There’s a certain sense of irony involved in those stories when they’re reported on by journalists can’t spell or use correct grammar and punctuation.
If you’re writing fiction, I can fully understand and accept why you’d play with punctuation, grammar, and spelling. It is fiction after all, and it requires a degree of imagination and creative licence. Reporting the news, however, does not require imagination or creativity. It requires a reporter to present the information in an objective manner. It requires the journalist to present the facts as they are known at the time of making or writing the report. It does not require the use of casual language that works only to dumb down the news. That is simply sloppy reporting.
I’m pleading with schools that teach reporting and broadcasting – bring back formal language, encourage reporters and journalists to use formal terms, stop telling media students that a casual approach to language in their reporting is acceptable. For the most part, the general population, the audience for their reports and articles is not made up of unintelligent beings. For the most part . . .