Act Cool! Here Comes a Grammar Police Officer

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comPeople who get paid to do a job have an obligation to do that job at least somewhat correctly. 

If you go to the doctor with a broken arm, you expect her to fix it. If you go to a restaurant for dinner, you expect it to be enjoyable. 

If your car has a flat tire, and you take it to the tire store and pay them to patch it, you expect a tire full of air when they get finished. 

If they take your money and send you on your way with a tire that is still flat, you don’t say, “That’s okay. I’ll just ride the rim. Here’s 20 bucks.”  

Along those same lines, someone who gets paid to communicate should be able to construct a simple sentence at the bare minimum. That task should’ve been mastered in the fifth grade, especially for someone who makes a living by using the language. 

I follow several major news organizations on Facebook. I’m talking about big regional, national and international pages run by newspapers, television networks, etc. 

Every single day, it blows my mind how many times the official Facebook accounts of these big news organizations make grammatical errors in their posts. 

“Here come the grammar police,” you may be saying. Or, “Don’t be so uptight. It doesn’t matter all that much.” 

Baloney. 

When a company’s sole responsibility is to communicate, that company has an obligation to communicate correctly. Simply putting out garbage that a fifth grader could mark up with a red pen is unacceptable. 

I could bore you with a hundred examples, but I will only offer one. 

I grew up watching WSMV in Nashville. Between diapers and college, I only missed the 6 o’clock news a handful of times. 

These guys broke my heart completely in two early Saturday morning with a Facebook post. It was horrible. When I saw it, I couldn’t believe it.  

Here’s what it said, exactly as it was posted: “If your up bright and early, so are we. Join us on Channel4 News Today, For the latest on Hurricane Matthew, and its finally feeling like fall!!! We’ll keep you updated” 

There are enough comma splices, missing punctuation marks, botched contractions, run-on sentences and vomiting exclamation points to send an English teacher into a coma. 

A few minutes after reading it, I was able to close my mouth and get my mind on something else. I went back 2 hours later to make sure they had fixed it. They hadn’t.  

All day long Saturday, I fully expected to read how the station manager saw it at home, led the cops on a high-speed chase before crashing his car into the newsroom, vaulting a cubicle wall and diving toward the delete button on the computer where the evil deed had been done. 

It is now Monday afternoon. It’s still there; I just looked. 

No cops. No crash. No deleting. 

This very well may sound like my silliest tirade to date, but the news business is my first love. I am deeply passionate about it. 

News organizations have always struggled to maintain credibility; and with all the fake or politically-motivated imposters out there today, that chore is harder than it ever has been. 

That precious concept of credibility is no longer confined to conveying the facts of a story. In today’s world, it extends to an organization’s ability not to look foolish on Facebook. Heaven knows, we have enough of that already. 

I guess I could hush, polish up my résumé, and go out there and do something about it. 

But, I’m too busy. When you work for the grammar police, you never get a day off. 

About Barry Currin

Barry tries to be funny and poignant, and he's usually satisfied when he succeeds with one or the other. (Being both is awesome. And sometimes that happens.) Email him: currin01@gmail.com

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