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Monday 3 August 2009

Don’t Reach for the Sky

The so-called mainstream media is well represented in the blogosphere, with most newspapers’ representatives in evidence, plus the BBC, ITN and C4. So it is no surprise to see commentators from Sky News there too, despite Rupe’s news channel managing a paltry 0.5% share of average viewing figures. Their blog takes its name – Boulton & Co – from that of news editor Adam Boulton.

And last Friday he posted a slice of ungrammatical incoherence that should not have been let out the door. I commend a leisurely and careful inspection of the text to any aspiring blogger, as an example of how to get your adversaries quaking, not through fear, but by the effects of hysterical and involuntary laughter.

The punctuation, for starters, is appallingly deficient: fifteen missing commas, one full stop that should have been a comma, two missing apostrophes and a spurious one. But a scan of the content reveals more obvious – and elementary – howlers. Let’s take it from the top, shall we?

The title gives the first suggestion of confusion: Boulton can’t decide whether it’s “Deadtree” or “Dead Tree”, although, by happy coincidence, neither of the papers whose commentators he lambasts is a part of Rupe’s empire. And by the third paragraph he starts to lose it, as we get “a political TV debate which mostly go painstakingly into ... " which, with a mere tense selection error, is only a taster for paragraph four, with “the 2 or 3 leaders how aspire to lead the country”.

The fifth paragraph brings two slips: inside the brackets there is “before Wing aired I believed”, suggesting that Adam either no longer believes, or has suffered yet another tense selection error, and later we find that folks “have bee trying”. Paragraph six brings some respite, with the sole howler the inability to realise that “Question Time” is two words, not one. Boulton brings one last flourish of incoherence in the final paragraph, where he tells that “Many constituencies now have debates between candidates – for selection or for parliament, on tv, on radio, on line, and just in the village hall”.

That’s an awfully busy village hall, Adam.

Boulton has, we are told, a masters degree from Oxford University. This suggests that he is not stupid. But the standard of this post – or the lack of it – gives the impression of abysmal quality control (if it is present at all), and an accompanying lack of respect for the target audience. Organisations like the BBC and Guardian set their standards rather higher: after all, if it’s worth saying, it’s worth saying properly.

But perhaps there is a philanthropic message at the heart of this story: if you can’t cut the mustard with a real media outlet, you can always get Rupe to look after you.

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