Monday, August 3, 2009

... whilst Deirdre' wept cool tears...

I've been doing my due diligence with my writing and learning what I can where I can. I've learned a lot and hope to be successful from taking the advice of people who know, even if they seem an unlikely source for that knowledge. I've discovered something through the advice though;

Like the TLC show "What Not to Wear" I think there should be a show called "What Not to Write". Sadly, many of the people who need this valuable lesson probably see themselves as too professional to need the advice.

Such is a writer for the Los Angeles Times, Shari Roan.

Shari wrote a piece that appeared in today's issue about a little boy, born deaf, that has received cochlear implants . While her article offers hope for the boy, and I'm happy for him, she apparently was absent the day they taught the lesson "make sure your article and title don't piss off people" The initial title on this article is "The Sound of One Boy Healing". The subsequent title is "Cochlear implants open deaf kids' ears to the world"

Lesson 1: Healing. Was his hearing loss due to an injury? Nope, he was born deaf. It happens. He's healing from surgery yes, but the title alone, as it always has, makes deafness sound like an illness. If you believe that, I have about 8,000 people in the Chicago area alone that I can text and have them share with you how wrong that is.

Lesson 2: This is nitpicky, but I'm pissed so I can be nitpicky. " deaf kids' ears to the world" If you paid attention to the "how the implants work" section in your own article, Ms. Roan, you'd see that the technology bypasses the ear entirely. So there! NYEAHHHH!

Lesson three: Not a "What Not to Write" but just a point to my readers who may not know. The father of the child says:
"We just want him to hear," says his father, Michael, 38, a registered nurse, on an October day at the couple's town house in Harbor City. "We want him to be independent."
Talk about pigeon-holing your kid early?!?! I guess I had better tell my Deaf friend Raymond who owns the largest interpreting and Deaf services agency in Chicago who just purchased a vacation home in Michigan, owns a gorgeous condo and just bought a nice new Lexus that he better give it all back since being deaf means not being able to fend for yourself. And a NURSE said that....

Lesson Four: Wouldn't it be simpler to say...?
This reminded me of a bit in "Auntie Mame" when she's writing her memoirs with a wordy ghost writer:
"I wonder if the general public is going to understand all this symbolism. (She reads) 'Like an echo from the caves of Coccamaura, I came forth whilst Deirdre wept cool tears.' Wouldn't it be simpler to say, 'On the day I was born, it rained in Buffalo?'"
Yes, Ms. Roan, instead of your sensationalizing with "some sliver of the racket... can penetrate his brain" wouldn't it be simpler to say "He can hear"? (thanks Just Kevin for the reference!)

Anyway, I will tip my hat to Ms. Roan for one thing. As I found out in my short and ill-fated job when I lived in Southern California, nothing is a complete waste. If nothing else, from that job, I learned what NOT to do in convention & event planning. As with Ms. Roan, (and as if I didn't know this already... called common sense) I have strengthened my knowledge of What Not to Write!


SUEB0B said...

Ok, I have to defend Ms. Roan a bit. The things you objected to were two headlines and a quote. Reporters do not get to write their own headlines. They usually (almost always) don't even see them after they are composed. I have wept not cool, but hot, furious tears over headlines that I felt wrecked or misrepresented my articles.

The other objection you had was to a quote. She might have chosen better, but it was the dad who said it, not the reporter.

End of lecture. Smooches.

Just Kevin... said...

I just knew that article would get you going off about the whole healing thing....of course, after it got me going about lots....but it really got you going, huh? Oh....never mind...

You're welcome!

cb said...

She should have kept the zen quote intact and gone with "sound of one boy clapping".