Yesterday saw the beginning of the CUNY Tow-Knight Entrepreneurial Journalism Program, where I met classmate, radio freelancer and entrepreneur-to-be Ashley Milne-Tyte.
In the first moments of conversation, we dissected how different media journalists approach the sentence, from television broadcasters, radio and print to British v. American. The British are sparse and snarky while some American outlets spin out longwinded and “turgid prose,” as Ashley puts it. My favorite Colin Fogarty quote, “one thought per sentence” came up as we discussed writing for the ear.
There is a battered fact that news is written at the eighth grade level. Out of this stems simple sentences. What a shame, I always thought. Are we as news outlets meeting people where they are or are we keeping them there by insisting that they are only capable of an eighth grade comprehension level?
But today is a new day. So, fellow publishers, journalists and smart thinkers, what do you think? Has the Internet made that argument moot? As Ashley and I talked, it dawned on me that nowadays, the debate is shifting from “do we test that eighth grade reading level” v. “let’s respect the audience’s time and maintain their attention.”