Local News: The Downfall Of Modern Journalism

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If you’re wondering what to do for entertainment while Lindsay Lohan is in jail, allow me to introduce you to a new source of endless laughs and eternal ridiculousness: local news.  Thanks to local news station WGRZ – channel 2 for the folks in Western New York – you can laugh, and possibly cry, at how pathetically poor the journalism is.

Some people suggest that it’s text messaging, bloggers and short attention spans that are killing journalism.  But as you’ll see below, it seems as though journalism is committing suicide with slovenly attitudes toward quality work and editing. Frankly, I’m surprised that some of these “journalists” managed to put together a résumé that didn’t contain glaring errors.  Clearly, writing samples were not required during the WGRZ application process.

To be honest, it’s a bit discouraging when I see Twitter posts and flame wars on message boards with better grammar and style than what is displayed on these “legitimate” media outlets.  The carelessness and neglect makes me wonder why I’m bothering with correct spelling and punctuation at all.

You should know that I didn’t go hunting for these errors. I happened to check out one story on WGRZ and just ran into so many obvious mistakes that I was compelled to write about the astonishing lack of quality.

EXHIBIT A

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Ah, this is where it all began. I’m almost getting nostalgic.  This piece clearly shows off the pinnacle of journalism, as we’re offered a “sneak peak” at some incredible sales.  The only thing that lacks credibility here is WGRZ’s reporter, who failed to realize that a furtive glance is called a “peek”.  I’ll ignore the fact that the sentence containing the error reads horribly.  But that’s only because the “journalist” has so much more fun in store.

Such as? How about forgetting to tell us what we should be keeping on retailers? Should that read “to keep a very close eye on”?  Or is WGRZ demonstrating freedom of speech by allowing you, the reader, to fill in the blank?  Also, the noun markdown is one word; the verb form is two.

Also, I don’t do much shopping, so I could be wrong – but I’m pretty sure it’s spelled linen rather than linnen, which isn’t a word, so you’d think any spelling software would reject that assembly of letters.  You might also notice that accessories is spelled incorrectly – but if you didn’t, don’t feel bad – neither did the author.  I’m also not a fan of The Random Capitalization of Words Lacking Importance, but I guess that’s personal preference.  As is, apparently, using two forms of blowout in two sentences.

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There’s also plenty of learning to be done at the tail end of the article, as I never knew “Christmas Ornaments” were proper nouns.  Also, past Black Fridays are apparently in possession of something, or that’s just an errant apostrophe. You decide.

Exhibit B

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Great news now – the Empire State Games are going to begin with opening ceremonies, rather than closing with them.  Also, your fingers can rest easy knowing that hyphens are no longer needed for compound modifiers such as “Olympic-style”.  Awkwardness ensues in the horribly worded run-on sentence that forms the entire third paragraph as well.  It’s also unclear whether the varying requirements for sports are just for the masters division or all of the divisions due to the awkward placement of that phrase.

Exhibit C

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Excellent – a story on Facebook. This will definitely draw in a lot of readers.  Let’s hope that everyone is astonished by the story to the point that they ignore the errors.

First – thanks for informing us that the Allegany County to which you’re referring is in New York, even after the dateline includes New York.  Also, this article was apparently penned by an 11-year-old, because I’m not sure I’ve seen the phrase “mega popular” since leaving grade school. And even then it was likely presented as “mega-popular.”

I’m also confused as to when this story is taking place, as lawyers were in court as Ceglia sues – did this happen or is it ongoing?  There’s another time warp when the reporter mentions that Ceglia waited until 2010 to follow his lawsuit.  Isn’t this 2010?

Also, most instances of “federal court”, or any court, aren’t capitalized unless a specific court is being mentioned, but I’ll let the slide, because using the cliché, ground zero, especially in New York, is a bit tired.

The Grand Finale

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At this point, I was ready to be done and go on with my day. So I logged in to Facebook to see if anyone was talking about the Ceglia case – maybe then I could figure out what tense it, and I, should be in.  But then, what do I see?  The awesome image above.  Even my news feed is subject to trashy journalism?

Obviously, the most offensive and hilarious part of this is that a Buffalo-based news station FAILED TO SPELL BUFFALO CORRECTLY!  Great job! Promote that editor!  You’ll also notice the apparent abhorrence and eschewal of hyphens (34-inch) and the disrespect for France (french? Isn’t that a proper noun? Not when you speak english, evidently).

And the worst part – this is probably the dumbest story I’ve ever seen.  Great hard-hitting journalism – I can’t imagine why people would rather watch Lady Gaga covers by military men on YouTube than read that tripe.

If it seems as though I was nitpicking, I was. If it seems as though I was nitpicking too much, I wasn’t – journalism is a profession, and those who practice it (supposedly) have degrees.  Imagine your doctor displaying this level of expertise.  In a bid not to be a total jerk, I did blur out the author’s names. This way, the authors and their degree-granting institutions won’t have to suffer too much embarrassment.  Seriously, though, I’m not hating on WGRZ; we all owe the station may thanks for the laughs.