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Why I can't stand the Seattle Times - Elf M. Sternberg
Why I can't stand the Seattle Times
I was reading the local newspaper, the Seattle Times, and came across an article that addressed a problem in my household: whooping cough. According to the family physician, it was "very likely" that at least one, and possibly up to three, of the people in our house caught the disease. We're all old enough that it doesn't represent a life-threatening condition, but it's annoying to go weeks without a let-up in the coughing. So I read the article hoping for enlightenment.

Except author Carol Ostrom writes to me as if I were a child. Starting with the title, "Feds probe whooping cough epidemic; are vaccines pooping out?," Ostrom goes through a series of bizarre language choices to get her point across. Starting with "pooping out," which is going to make everyone's inner five year old snigger, and move on to telling the audience that whooping cough is "pertussis in science speak," and that it is "acknowledged to be a bad bug." It reads like she's trying to reach not just that target 5th grade reading level, but all the way down to the 2nd grade playground.

Worse, a mechanical analysis of the article shows a 12th grade reading level to the whole. As you go further into the article, Ostrom's vocabulary becomes more dense and complex, and the last third of the article is written in language that doesn't insult my intelligence.

I know these are conscious editorial choices-- to make sure that everyone who bothers to read the Times can understand the point the author is making, but I find it tiring to wade through the childish introductory paragraphs to get to the real material and issues involved in the story.

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Current Mood: annoyed annoyed

2 comments or Leave a comment
sandhawke From: sandhawke Date: September 30th, 2012 08:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Me and my four kids (ages 8-15) had it about a year ago. Quite terrifying -- the first bad fit I had, I really thought I was going to die in the grocery store parking lot, with two of my kids watching. I simply could not breath for well over 30 seconds (which felt like about 5 minutes). But it passed, before I passed out and/or died.

I was reassured to learn that as unpleasant as it is, non-infants don't actually die of it. So you just learn to bear it.

Also, for all of us, it helped a lot to learn the somewhat counter-intuitive trick of trying to breath through ones nose, not mouth, when gasping for breath.

blaisepascal From: blaisepascal Date: October 1st, 2012 02:49 am (UTC) (Link)
I hope you and yours get better soon.
2 comments or Leave a comment