Strunk and White v. Newspapers

Strunk and White elementary rule no. 17:

Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all sentences short, or avoid all detail and treat subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.

Your typical newspaper, on contrast, is a blank piece of paper that has to be filled each day, whether there’s substance enough or not. And it shows. Loads of unnecessary words and sentences.

But online, there’s not that physical number-of-pages-to-fill demand for superfluous words, so we should see much more vigorous writing online, once journalists break that nasty old habit. We’re already seeing it in the blogs.

1 comment

Branimir Dolicki

I agree. Unfortunately, there is a flip side to it. The space on paper costs more money and many editors and authors cut unnecessary words mercilessly. On the other hand, many bloggers don't revise and cut because space costs almost nothing.
Read more
Read less

Leave a comment