Friday, August 28, 2015

execrable writing

Journalists really need to learn to write better. This sentence, from an article about a Chinese cameraman's collision with fleet-footed Usain Bolt, just makes me cringe:

But his momentary triumphalism, a Jamaican flag draped across his shoulders, was shattered when he failed to outrun a Chinese cameraman riding a Segway, the ubiquitous two wheeled self-propelled scooter, which then crashed into him.

Go ahead: write an improved version of the sentence in the comments.



SJHoneywell said...

Bolt's triumph was short-lived; a Segway-riding Chinese cameraman crashed into him.

It's shorter, clearer, and I think it's funnier, too.

Charles said...

"As his lifeblood ebbed from the gaping wound in his side, Usain bitterly pondered the cruelty of fame and glory. Had he not won the race, the clumsy Chinese cameraman would not have been following him so closely. Had he not been such a supreme specimen of human athleticism, the cameraman might have exercised greater control over the beast, instead of gazing mesmerized at Usain's glistening muscles. But all of his triumphs, all of his victories, they meant nothing now as he lay crumpled on the track, gutted by the vicious Segway, the ubiquitous two wheeled self-propelled scooter with a notorious thirst for human blood. Would he be remembered for his glorious career or as just another statistic, a victim of--

But was where his thoughts ended, for his heart had ceased to beat and his brain had flickered and died. There, in a pool of red blood against the red track, lay the champion, slain by an insatiable beast. Does the hubris of mankind know no bounds?"

OK, so that's more than one sentence. But I still like it better.

Also, Bolt did not "evade" his closest rival. "Evade" means to "avoid" or "escape," and Bolt did neither, since his closest rival was not chasing him. I'm beginning to think that these characters known as Oliver Brown and Gregory Walton might be hacks.

Kevin Kim said...

Amazing. In two comments, we run the gamut from spare prose to purple, veiny prose.

Charles said...

Don't forget "throbbing." Purple, veiny, throbbing prose.

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

That sentence is so bad that even making it worse would be an improvement.

Jeffery Hodges

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