This week I’ve started teaching an interesting new course: language criticism for journalism students. Students edit a weekly magazine, Utain, and receive critiques of their stories. Often in other courses people like to harshly criticize the language used by journalists. I regularly defend the language of newspaper journalists as well as radio and TV broadcasters, because I think their language is surprisingly well-controlled considering how much they write and speak. The first batch of stories I reviewed confirmed my positive view, because the examples were well thought out and almost error-free. The pattern of the errors also highlights the good language skills of these writers: compound words and capitalization, zero errors; pronouns, 2; numbers, 2; punctuation errors, 6. Most of my critiques dealt with word choice and with verbosity, and these are topics for discussion rather than actual mistakes.
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