Friday, July 22, 2005
Notes from the Crazies
In today's JG's Letters to the Editor, a teacher gives the copy editors a tongue-lashing:
Journalists’ grammar should be impeccableHey, if his students are reading the paper and pointing out poor grammar...at least they're reading the paper! And recognizing poor grammar!
Having been disappointed and dismayed for something like the 100th time recently, I wish to raise an objection to what is becoming a recurrent trend in journalism and in our society. An article in the July 10 issue of The Journal Gazette contains the following: “A group of Senior Girl Scouts from northeast Indiana are leaving ...”
I find this glaring error disappointing for two reasons:
The first has to do with a frequently voiced claim from journalistic organizations that they are “fair and accurate.” How can people trust such claims if the work produced by these groups has deficiencies in the application of the most basic rules of proper communication? If the people involved don’t know or care about proper spelling, punctuation, grammar or word usage, how can we trust them to be “fair and accurate”?
The second reason is that I am a teacher. One of my responsibilities is to help students develop good communication skills. However, why should my students pay attention to my directions to work carefully to craft properly written materials? As far as they can see, proper writing is not highly valued. Trying to get my students to make sure that the subject and predicate agree in number is made significantly more difficult when they frequently run into work produced by “professionals” that ignores the rules I am trying to enforce.
I find the situation especially galling when members of the organizations who hire my students then complain that: “The schools are not producing students with the basic skills we expect.”
Such errors are becoming commonplace in the work of journalists and other members of our society, such as politicians and business people. What standards should I as a teacher reasonably apply to my students’ works considering the quality of the work our society accepts?