Thursday, March 20, 2008


The way lazy television writing often slips into the sports section is a real piss-take on a print journalist.

How many times do you read a sentence in a sports story which begins, "it would be..." or "if not for..." or "it was?" All the time. This is a bit of faux-gravitas that originated with TV folk who, granted, are tasked with injecting some life into the same old NHL highlights that must run together by about the 50-game mark of the season: "But it would be Alexei Kovalev" -- gotta draw out every syllable of those Russian names, for effect -- "who would put the Habs ahead to stay."

The TV folk, at least those higher up the ladder, get paid more. They get recognized in public more often and get more free stuff tossed their way, more invitations to emcee charity events. Deep-down, though, everyone knows who runs the show when it comes to wordsmithing. So why is the TV style crossing over into print? Please, explain how so form of newspapers are supposed to survive when they start to ape the shallow writing style of TV.

You can see it every morning in your local fishwrap. Team A, the Doopy-Loopies, beats Team B, the Shimmy-Shammies, in a playoff game. It's described as follows:

"Ironically, it was the Doopy-Loopies who the Shimmy-Shammies beat last year." (Emphasis mine.)
It is not ironic. It's a coincidence. Starting a sentence with "it was" is also the kind passive language that should be avoided. It's also a case of backing into the subject. The Doopy-Loopies got revenge for a playoff loss last season by beating the Shimmy-Shammies yesterday.

This might seem a little inside. Seriously, though, to a wannabe writer it's like getting the umpteenth phone call asking you'd like to renewing a newspaper subscription you cancelled weeks ago right when you're trying to flick a piece of popcorn that's stuck in your upper molars. It's that annoying and that trivial, all at once.

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