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October 30th, 2008

Local News Sites Need New Writers

I have been increasingly infuriated with the poor grammar, bad spelling, and too-numerous-to-count mistakes that appear in local news stories on websites 2theadvocate.com (WBRZ News 2 and local newspaper, The Advocate) and wafb.com (Channel 9), but I believe I have finally reached my boiling point.

I have tried to take into consideration that this is the Internet and therefore a bit more "casual" than  other media sources; however, that does not even begin to excuse the apathy with which these media outlets put their content online.  They are supposed to be professional, but their writing - and mistakes - make them seem anything but.

I could perhaps let slip the fact that their writing is lackluster, contrived, and often unintelligible.  I might could even look over the writer's personal opinions often being thrown into what should be unbiased, professional news stories.  Hell, let's even excuse the complete lack of proofreading these pieces obviously go through - each article has, at the very least, one error that could and should have been caught by proofreading; most have more than one or two.  Yet I can no longer stand by when, added to that heap, these "journalists" do not appear to have the slightest grasp on grammar or even sentence structure!

As an example (and I could provide many more), here is an article - unedited by me, as is - that is currently running over at WAFB:

The Baton Rouge man accused of killing his two young boys to get revenge on his wife will be examined by mental health experts. Clayton Murphy junior appeared in district court Thursday and showed little emotion. This from a man who allegedly stabbed two kids and called his wife to tell her about it.

Clayton Murphy jr, will have a mental evaluation before his case goes any further. Prosecutors expect to seek the death penalty after Murphy was caught by police standing over the body of his own 2-year-old son Tayshaun. The other child,  8-year-old Juwan was laying dead in the other room. Prosecutor Aaron Brooks said, " this is horrendous, unspeakable, unforgivable." Defense attorney Margaret Lagatudda said, "something must have happened for someone whose never been in trouble never done anything violent before...something had to snap to kill children that he loved."

An East Baton Rouge sheriff's deputy fired one shot at Murphy but missed him. After he was arrested, deputies say Murphy confessed to the killings. The mental evaluation will determine whether the prosecution seeks the death penalty or life in prison. Brooks said, " the evidence I've reviewed so far support the possibility of first degree murder indictment that will be there call but that is what we will present and we'll seek." But first Murphy has to be evaluated. Lagatudda said, " does he understand the court proceedings that's the first step. We have some information we believe theres gonna be some mental health issues. So before I get to the mental health I want to determine if he's competent."

The mental health report is due back to judge johnson December fifth. Murphy will be back in court December 11th.

Can you count the errors?  This sounds like a really bad blog post rather than a professionally-written article published on a valid news source.  Let's review - errors in bold, my corrections in italics:

The Baton Rouge man accused of killing his two young boys to get revenge on his wife will be examined by mental health experts. Clayton Murphy junior (Clayton Murphy, Jr.) appeared in district court Thursday and showed little emotion. This from a man who allegedly stabbed two kids and called his wife to tell her about it. (Superfluous, personal opinion - should be taken out.)

Clayton Murphy jr (Jr.), will have a mental evaluation before his case goes any further. Prosecutors expect to seek the death penalty after Murphy was caught by police standing over the body of his own (Superfluous.  Obviously his son was his "own'".  Again, putting too much personal emotion into the news piece) 2-year-old son (2 year-old) Tayshaun. The other child,  8-year-old (8 year-old) Juwan (missing comma) was laying (lying) dead in the other room. Prosecutor Aaron Brooks said, " this is horrendous, unspeakable, unforgivable." Defense attorney Margaret Lagatudda said, "something must have happened for someone whose (who's) never been in trouble (missing comma) never done anything violent before...something had to snap to kill children that he loved."

An East Baton Rouge sheriff's deputy fired one shot at Murphy but missed him. After he was arrested, deputies say Murphy confessed to the killings. The mental evaluation will determine whether the prosecution seeks the death penalty or life in prison. Brooks said, " the (The, no space before the quote) evidence I've reviewed so far support (supports) the possibility of (a) first degree murder indictment that will be there (their) call but that is what we will present and we'll seek." (Don't even get me started on the preceding quote - let's just say that sentence called, and it wants its punctuation back) But first Murphy has to be evaluated. Lagatudda said, " does (Does, no space before the quote) he understand the court proceedings (? Begin new sentence with "That's") that's the first step. We have some information (,) we believe theres (there's) gonna be some mental health issues. So before I get to the mental health I want to determine if he's competent."

The mental health report is due back to judge johnson (you're kidding me, right?  /sigh  Judge Johnson) December fifth (December 5th, especially since it is written this way in the next sentence). Murphy will be back in court December 11th.

I probably even missed some.  The main problem with this is that it isn't just one article or one particular "journalist" at either place; this is nearly every article that appears on both sites.  Either they don't care about the content they are putting online or they really are very bad writers.

I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt, but I just don't know that I can at this point.  The problem has actually gotten worse instead of better - or even remaining the same.  Do these "journalists" give a toss about their credentials, their bodies of work, how they are going to look to the public at large?  Professionalism seems to be an afterthought; if it's a thought at all.

Every time I go to read an article at either site I find myself yelling out loud at the screen over the ridiculousness printed there.  I am simply fed up with their lack of professionalism and complete disregard for the very basics of writing (sentence structure, grammar, etc.)  It sickens me to think this is the future of our media, and with college graduates hardly being able to write their way out of a paper bag with both ends cut out, I don't see this improving in the future.

I want to believe these people can write better than this.  Perhaps they all just need much better editors and to hire some actual proofreaders; I really can't say.

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