Ignorant reportage

Saturday 20 March 2010, 11.14am HKT


FOUND a note I wrote last year about a TV news item (problem language underlined):—

Here’s a TV news item that is brainless and prejudiced masquerading as objective reporting:

“The mother went out for a 45-minute grocery shopping and was later arrested for child neglect as well. … the problem is caused by parents in ignorance the range of child services provided by the Social Welfare Department.”

(Source: Evening news on TVB Pearl, 05 July 2009)

grocery

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FIRST OF ALL, let’s remind ourselves what LANGUAGE we are using here.

(Journalists and journo-types should pay attention here now.)

(1)As well” makes it seem that a 45-minute grocery trip and child neglect are arrestable offences. The child neglect might be one, but frankly, I don’t think grocery trips (even if 45 minutes or longer) qualifies under the most totalitarian of regimes. LEARN ENGLISH, OR STARVE.

(2) It’s not “ignorance,” you dipstick halfwit pretend journalist. Just the plain “not knowing” is fine enough. LEARN ENGLISH OR STARVE.

(3) Child services (or any other services) are not “provided by” the Social Welfare Department. We DON’T use demeaning Victorian English anymore. True, we live in a welfare state (of sorts), but we don’t live in a society of charity handouts. If you happen to think a government is king, then everything is ‘provided’ by it. The correct term (even in non-journalistic English) is “available to users from.” LEARN ENGLISH, OR STARVE.

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NOW we get to the meat of the piece:—

What problem? Absolute nonsense. You didn’t explain or show. The ‘problem‘ of parents leaving their children unattended at home is not a problem. Think. Even if it were a problem, it is not caused by their not knowing the availability of services. Think, think, think. LEARN TO THINK, OR STARVE.

The problem (if it were one) is not a question of ignorance. The problem of parents leaving children unattended at home is caused by something else. It is “only made worse by not knowing” that certain services could be had from the Social Welfare Department. LEARN TO THINK, OR STARVE.

In fact, the problem of increasing instances of unattended children is probably because parents might (not may) be unable to afford to hire domestic housekeepers or babysitters. Think. LEARN TO THINK, OR STARVE.

Ignorance causes a lot of things, such as ignorance of
your job as a journalist and ignorance of your abilities
in the English (or any other) language
causing this kind of rubbish reporting.

Try the amended version (not the best, but a helluva lot better than yours, idiots):—

The mother was arrested for child neglect after been gone for 45 minutes to do groceries. The Social Welfare Department says unattended children in the home is becoming a problem because parents are unaware of the services available to them from the department.

The cleaned-up version is a little longer, but clearer and sensible. It is less judgmental and, more importantly, steers well away from that thing you journalist love to hate but do all the time — DEFAMATION.

Trying to save a few goddamn words (because it is the fetish of Hong Kong people when it comes to the English language) is no saving at all when the result is a shambles like this.

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Yes, Your Accidency, you don’t even know how to do a run-of-the-mill news item that any 14 year old in Europe or America can do with eyes shut.

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A pseudo-journalist was executed by firing squad, slowly at dawn from the knee up, after filing a near-illiterate but defamatory TV news report about doing groceries and child neglect. A spokesman for Lord Darth Vader says journalists’ ignorance of their jobs and basic language proficiency is becoming a serious problem in light of the 10-plus years of secondary education and specialist university-level training that most journalists have to have prior to working in journalism.

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© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2010. Image by iStockphoto.com via NPR.
Updated 25 July 2012 (colours)
Updated 26 Jan 2013 (photo added, punctuation fixes)

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