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In "Would-be robbery victim fights back" the writer writes, "Police said he had a dark bandana covering a portion of his face, police said." When you said "free of errors," I doubt this is what you had in mind, huh, Dr. Jerz?  Redundant? Obviously this reporter and his/her editor were rushing to publish the article by Sunday morning. I do see a lot of detail included, despite how short the story is, and the exact time is saved for the second paragraph rather than put into the lead.  The robbery occuring less than 24 hours before publication makes the time substantial, I assume. 

I do have a question about the "serial-coma" and when it's necessary in lists? For example, "Would-be robbery victim fights back" writer uses it:

The would-be robber is described as having dark eyes and dark hair, wearing a tossel cap, shorts, dark socks, and "skater-style shoes."

But Paul Paterra in "Plea deal reached in Jeannette enslavement, kidnap case" uniformly does not:

Jonathan Pollard was charged with rape, involuntary deviate sexual Intercourse, sexual assault, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, interference with the custody of children, aggravated assault, simple assault, corruption of minors, terroristic threats, recklessly endangering another person and criminal conspiracy.

Would the first example be too confusing without it because of the quotation marks?

            Additionally, I was confused about the enslavement article's statement as to not giving out victim names; afterwhich, they provide the full name, location and age of the victim in the proceeding paragraph.  Anyone?





Derek Tickle said:

I love it! Your first quote is a perfect example of excessive information. Why say it twice, when you can say it once. As for the comma question that you presented, I think that it is necssary for the commas so that a longer sentence with detailed information makes sense by having a sentence with segments instead of a long run-on that readers have to stop and think, "What did I just read?"

April M. Minerd said:

I have to correct myself for not reading more thoroughly. The enslavement article actually uses the words "alleged victims of sexual assault," and the girl referred to afterwards was an actual victim; her perpetrators were charged with kidnapping and enslaving, not sexual crimes. Well, that really shows how close attention counts.
Thanks, Derek. I see how the coma can be needed in order for the sentence to make sense; it just seems the serial coma is often used or omitted with personal preference.

While you're right that the person they mentioned by name did not formally charge anyone with sexual assault, I still think it might cross the line to name someone who was a victim of what appears to be a similar crime for the most part. At the very least, I think to the average reader seeing those two sentences together makes it seem that the newspaper's violating its owns standards. I had the same reaction as you did when I first read that article, and I don't think most people who don't have a lot of time to sit down and analyze an article will want to sort through the complexity of that statement. If they really thought it was necessary to mention the name of the victim of the 2007 crime, I think they should have separated it more from the statement about not printing names and made it clearer that the previous crime was not sexual assault.

Angela Palumbo said:

This is my reflection:

In my own blog entry, I found multiple mistakes in these articles. I was critical of the two articles and actually felt a little bad about it because I know that I make dumb little mistakes all the time. Not usually that bad, but mistakes nonetheless. But April’s entry reinforced my criticism of these two articles. Both articles come complete with stupid little mistakes that should have been caught before going into print. Who proofreads this stuff?
As far as the Oxford comma, or serial comma (as April calls it), is concerned, I would venture to say that it would be left off. As Dr. Jerz (or Jerz in newspeak) said, “If you can leave it off, leave it off.” Obviously, that isn’t a direct quote but it’s a paraphrase. In order to save space, the comma would be left off because it isn’t necessary.

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