A reader alerted me to what is labeled an “opinion” piece (here it is) put together – it was not written – by a college freshman by the name of Tia Laury, who is described as pursuing a degree in journalism. The thing published under her byline bears examination – not because of the errancy of the opinion expressed but rather to come to terms with just how bad things are at American colleges.
Which helps to understand why they are so bad at American newspapers.
Let’s begin with the headline, which reads: The MU Mask Policy Lacks Proper Campus Safety.
Does it, really?
Now comes the lead – as we journalists call it:
“The coronavirus has forced our world to go into lockdown since spring 2020.”
Well, let’s see.
Wasn’t it the governments of the world that “forced the world to go into lockdown”? The virus may have been the putative justification – and the merits of that can be debated. But it is factually incorrect to state that the virus “forced the world to go into lockdown.”
And by the way, it’s the world. Not our world. Save the kumbaya for social studies.
She – poor girl – goes on:
“At MU, students and faculty have learned how to adapt to wearing masks in educational and social settings.”
No, child. Students and faculty were ordered to “wear masks in educational and social settings.” To style that as “learning how to adapt” is fatuous and treacly, too. State the fact – and then (if it is an opinion piece) give your take on the fact.
“However, due to recently improved conditions of COVID-19 cases, the MU Incident Command Team lifted the requirement of masks on campus.”
Errata, phone home!
What is meant by “recently improved conditions of COVID-19 cases”? She of course means there are fewer cases. And “lifted the requirement of masks on campus”? Italics added.
An editor could have helped here. Remedial English could have helped more.
“This news not only affects individuals at MU, but also the university’s image since the pandemic is still prevalent.”
How is a pandemic “prevalent”? One ought not to use big words one does not know the meaning and usage of. Also, why is the university’s image at issue? Shouldn’t the issue be whether the measures are necessary?
She struggles onward:
“Moreso, the carelessness of not requiring masks can increase virus cases as the year goes on.”
Moreso? Journalism majors used to consult these things . . . what were they called? Ah, yes! Dictionaries. Do they have them still at colleges where students study journalism?
“Every day we are surrounded by thousands of people who could carry a life-threatening virus, which can inflict more health problems in the MU community.”
How does one “inflict” something “in the community”?
Perhaps in the same way that not wearing a “mask” is likely – as this out-of-her-depth-but-no-one-has-told-her young woman puts it – to “falter their success in college.”
Her ” . . . main concern because facing this life-changing sickness can be detrimental.”
I could continue but that would be unmerciful. It would be merciful for someone to help this naif learn to write – before she publishes. This used to be a presumed competence of journalists, since a person who had not learned to write clearly could not communicate clearly.
The college journalism student who cobbled together this concatenation of non sequiturs and crippled malaprops wouldn’t have made it past freshman English at my high school – let alone been published by my high school student newspaper.
But that was the ’80s – when people who hadn’t learned how to write weren’t published.
For their own sake as well as that of the readers.
. . . .
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