This is Journalism?

I left this comment on an article over at

This is an interesting article, but seriously, Forbes, is anyone there watching over the grammar? Is the third most innovative company America? I don’t think that’s what you meant, but that’s what you said. Maybe I can forgive the missing hyphen (well, no, I can’t, not from alleged professionals) in the Red Hat bit, but there’s some nasty comma action going on.

Later, another missing hyphen, that changes the meaning of the sentence.

Probably the most annoying error is the comma splice in the da Vinci section. Good Lord, people, learn to use a semicolon! You’re Forbes, right? Professionals and masters of prose? Certainly no one would confuse your articles with some unchecked blather steaming out of the blogosphere. Although you’ve done nothing to differentiate yourselves in this article.

Show a little pride in your work.

Just because it’s the Web doesn’t mean you can write like shit.


4 thoughts on “This is Journalism?

    • You don’t have to worry about me judging you the same way I do these idiots. I am guilty of all the infractions listed above as well. But I don’t get paid for my writing, I don’t have an editor, and I’m not read by who-knows-how-many thousands. A different standard applies to some guy writing a blog.

      You do better than those guys anyway.

      • My problem is, I read a book about style and proper usage and it makes me go gonzo. It’s as if I take a gun safety course and then go blazing away because I think I know how to use a gun. I never used a semi-colon until after I read Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, now I use them all the time – and badly (I also over use dashes).
        I can recognize a well used semi-colon, but when I try it’s not well done. Like watching an NBA lay-up and saying, I can do that.” But not really.
        Also, back to your post – I notice *a lot* of mistakes and typos these days, in the post-print world. Are print editors better? Is web journalism so fast it has outpaced checking? And like you, I am surprised at the places I find errors – often in high falutin’ institutions like Forbes, and Atlantic, etc.

        • There’s a difference between misuse and overuse, and the latter is rare, I think. There’s a certain style of writing, conversational and flowing, that chains together thoughts and tosses in asides, that makes heavy use of dashes and semicolons entirely appropriate. It’s part of the voice of the writer.

          Different are misuses that change or at the very least cloud the meaning of what is being said.

          I read a post by a respected copy editor a year or three ago which said she had stopped enforcing hyphenation rules in light prose. That disturbs me, because proper use of hyphens makes the sentence easier to parse. (I blame Microsoft and the other word processor vendors for this – they count hyphenated constructions as a single word.) The editor argued that since most people were confused about the rules for hyphenation, that seeing hyphens disrupted their reading.

          While I admit that hyphenation can be tricky (should I have put a hyphen between ‘word’ and ‘processor’ above?), for the most part it makes reading easier.

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