But I have an even harder time with newspapers. The standard journalistic voice is really confusing and infuriating to me. Here's an example of something that's basically impossible for me to just read:
(The third paragraph of http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=2466002)
The newspaper was expounding the nationalistic argument now being used in China to counter Google's announcement last week that it would stop censoring its Chinese search engine and may even pull out of the world's fastest-growing Internet market because of sophisticated cyber attacks, originating in China, that resulted in the theft of intellectual property and targeted the g-mail accounts of human rights activists and some businesses.I mean, come on. If you wrote a sentence like this in middle school, your teacher would tell you that you are really smart, and that you should rewrite the sentence.
Can you really read this sentence just once, at a normal speed, and understand it? Blows my mind. Now, it may be an extreme example, but I find all newspaper writing like this to one degree or another. Even the puff pieces are like this for me. The only stuff that I can really follow are the pieces in the Book Review, because they are deliberately not trying to spray facts at you -- they're discursive, and get to the hard facts somewhere in the middle. In other words, they're not journalistic.
Here's how I would rewrite this:
Sophisticated cyber attacks resulted in the theft of intellectual property, and targeted the g-mail accounts of human rights activists and some businesses. The attacks originated in China, causing Google to announce last week that it would stop censoring its Chinese search engine, and may even pull out of the world's fastest-growing Internet market. The Global Times expounded the nationalistic argument to counter Google's announcement.I know this is utterly unacceptable for journalistic writing, but it is much easier for me to understand. Am I the only one?
I always assumed that a major reason for the journalistic style is that it's more succinct. My rewrite however, saves one character.
I do see one real problem: "the nationalistic argument" at the end is too far enough from its referent in the previous paragraph. I would therefore want to move the previous paragraph after this one. But that breaks what seems to be another rule of journalistic writing: start with the barest facts, and add detail as you go along. By this rule, the nationalistic argument should be before the context of the nationalistic argument. So I can't fix this, um, stretched reference without making my version a few words longer.
In any case, my version sounds weird, right? It breaks the text up into smaller sentences, which makes it kind of sing-song. It might even feel condescending, in a Dick-and-Jane kind of way. But in the end, it's just another specialized, stylized voice for conveying information rapidly, and one I would find much easier to read.