Thanks 'Butch' for 'Getting it Write'
Hi Desmond, does anyone in the editorial department ever read articles submitted by newspaper columnists before they are committed to print? We can still rely on the old souls of Morris Cargill, C. Roy Reynolds, Dawn Ritch and the more recent Diana McCaulay and Ian Ball for clear concise writing. Articles written by most of the newer columnists, however, could use some serious red ink before publication.
OF ALL the gifts I received over the Christmas period, there is one which I will especially cherish for a long time. It is the Ken Gordon autobiography, Getting it Write: Winning Caribbean Press Freedom, which was sent to me by the Hon. Gordon 'Butch' Stewart, O.J. If you haven't got a copy yet, hurry up and get one.
This is not a review of the just released book, but I assure you dear reader, the life of Kenneth Gordon, the Trinidadian media mogul, is well worth the read. There is much of interest to Jamaicans, because Gordon is almost as much a Jamaican as he is Trinidadian. Naturally, I have a lot of personal interest in the book, because it mentions important developments concerning The Jamaica Observer newspaper of which I was the founding editor.
To tease you a little, I'll share with you, Butch's letter accompanying the book: "Dear Desmond, please accept the enclosed autobiography of Ken Gordon, chairman of the CCN Group of Trinidad and Tobago who is, undoubtedly, one of the foremost champions
of press freedom in the English-speaking Caribbean and certainly in the western world.
"Ken has committed his experiences to print to inform students of journalism and the people of this region and the world of the struggles that have been taking place in the Caribbean to protect our democratic way of life, with a free press as one of its main planks.
"Here is a man whose views I respect and admire, and whose thoughts and experiences command the attention of everyone who values freedom of speech and a free press as an important institution in the society.
"I feel that this book, as a gift to you, is an appropriate way to end this century, as we approach the next century with optimism, hope and an abiding love for our country, fortified by our determination to enjoy our hard-won freedoms of speech, worship, association, and movement. My sincerest wish for a merry Christmas and a bright and exhilarating New Year." - Sincerely, Butch Stewart.
I'm going to admit something, but promise not to hold it against me. I was pleasantly surprised that I actually received some nominations for 'Spike Bouquets' for 1999! Journalists don't usually like to praise each other. Don't ask me why. I didn't expect any response, let alone the number of responses. But I am happy to be wrong on this one. And the nominations are interesting!!!
Check 'Spike' next week for the list of journalists who have been named by colleagues or members of the public to receive bouquets for outstanding work. Those of you who have not yet sent in nominations still have a little time. Remember, sign your names and add a line explaining your nomination. And don't forget: this exercise is meant for good, so keep it real.
Send nominations to: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org or fax 926-0295.
Spike readers' comments
Here's a December 30 gem from Mark Wignall (Observer), one of the worst offenders: "In declaring that governance and any development that should flow from it must be viewed in evolutionary terms and not petty partisan, one-upmanship claims, NHT simply falls into that evolutionary mode and must be seen so." I would be indebted to anyone, including Mr. Wignall, who could explain what that means. - Karlene Morgan, PR Accounts Executive.
Spike comment: There are some other columnists I could add to your list for clear concise writing (see 'Spike Bouquets' next week), but generally I have to agree with you, Karlene. Editing a column calls for great skill and sometimes consulting with the writer. Some editors don't have the stomach for that. And the proof-reader either has no spunk or is lazy. Ah bwoy. Poor us!
Hi Desmond, long time no see but enjoy your columns. I read today's issue (Spike 24/27) and must disagree with the comments under Observer 'Keloids' November 29. I remember from the old Common Entrance examination drill that 'one of' always takes the singular verb. The sentence 'one of the theories has' would therefore be correct, since the agreement is with 'one of' and not 'theories'. This is the rule I always follow but, of course, I might be wrong. Enjoy the rest of the holidays and keep up the good work.
Eulalee Thompson, journalist email@example.com.
Spike comment: In essence, you are right, Eulalee, but you misread the Spike. Recall that the sentence quoted from The Observer read: "One of the theories that has been expounded..." Please note that the addition of the word 'that' after 'theories' makes it plain that the writer meant to say "one of the (many) theories that have been expounded..." A singular verb would have to follow 'expounded'. Thus: "One of the theories that have been expounded has just been debunked."
Dear Spike, I always look forward to your column. From time to time, I have seen and heard glaring blunders in the media, but did not take the time to write.
However, I must share these two examples with you, although you might be aware of them. First, a headline in the Business Observer, December 15 "Finsac bundled on Inter-continenetal" while the text of the article said "Intercontinental". Second, a headline in The Gleaner, December 20, page A13: "Lincoln health centre to complete March 2000". Keep up the good work. Karen Thompsonkarenjca@yahoo.com.
Desmond Allen has been practising journalism for 26 years.