Nope, you read that right.
I was supposed to post another story from New Zealand today, but before I got round to actually writing it, I browsed the net for a while like a good procrastinator. I came across a couple of entertaining stories, a few that were informative, and a couple which were complete drivel, but that’s the risk you take when you don’t have news-reading habits.
What all of those had in common, however, was neither the source nor the subject. What they had in common was that they were all, if not filled then, at least dappled with errors. And I don’t just mean typos, which can also be quite distracting sometimes.
There were missing words, missing or repeated conjunctions, misplaced articles, etc., etc. My friends know me and the fact that I tend to be a grammar nazi sometimes, but this time… it’s not even about the grammar. 100% of all the mistakes that I noticed today were not the result of poor writing skills or poor grammar; they were all the result of no one having read the text over once it was finished and submitted for publication. I admit, I don’t always re-read these posts either, but I’m not Huffington Post or any other online press with a huge daily traffic. I’m not getting paid for this, and I still care more about it. How come?
I know that in the age of instant media you have a very small window of opportunity to be on top of the news, and everyone’s fighting for that first place, but does that mean they need to compromise the quality? It’s a small thing, but it always starts with the small things. Everyone thinks it’s too small for them to be bothered with, they’re above silly little things like proper expression or using the right words at the right time, and by the time they realise, they’re half-bloody-illiterate!
I am getting agitated here because I see this most of all (or at least it makes the biggest impact) in my own country with my own language, Bulgarian. People just can’t be bothered to write in the official alphabet, and since Cyrillic is almost the opposite of Latin, not all the letters have their corresponding characters in the other alphabet. So you would see a jumble of Latin letters forming god-knows-what, and it would sometimes involve numbers instead of letters too! It’s preposterous and will keep saying that until I’m blue in the face.
So, my question is, if the journalists – who, in my eyes, are supposed to be setting the example – don’t care and put in the time to do it right, who will? And what should we be expecting to read in 20 years? My grandmother already knows less than 90% (if not 80%) of the words in Bulgarian newspapers. Would speaking 3 or 4 languages save me from the same faith someday or even that won’t be enough?
Are true writers a dying breed? And I don’t mean the people who put out best seller books a year or two after they’ve “accidentally” put a home-porn video on the web. I mean the people who like to play with words, who enjoy sentence structure and a good poetic flow. The ones who know what a thesaurus is, and use it shamelessly for the sake of a better phrase. Where are they? I sure hope they’re in a cosy room somewhere writing novels or short stories or poems because it sure doesn’t seem like they work for online magazines and newspapers.