Carina Chocano: Learn to Write to Audience or Quit

Let’s see.  When I got my master’s degree in journalism, the standard was to write to a seventh-grade reader.  Unfortunately, some journalists are now writing to impress their former professors, or themselves, in some kind of college esteem deficit syndrome.

Case in point: Los Angeles Times film critic Carina Chocano.  Her reviews read like a college paper (I’ve been a university instructor since 1995) out to impress with convoluted sentences and words to impress academics and turn off the reader.

Just tell me if the movie is any good or not.  I don’t care about your college hang-ups, Carina.

Take this example:  Today, she wrote what was called "An Appreciation" for Paul Newman, who just died.  Check this sentence:

"What  is ‘Cool Hand Luke’ if not a polyamorous bromance writ large?"

Bromance is not a word to be found in the dictionary, so it’s either a typo or some kind of Hollyweird lingo that needs a parenthetical explanation.  Polyamarous, meaning sleeping with many, is fine, but seventh graders won’t understand it, though one’s former profeessors might be impressed.

In short, remember your audience, Carina, and quit trying to impress those who don’t count (though you may be thinking it impresses the people who pay your bills, but I hope not–are they sensible?).

Is there any wonder the Los Angeles Times and all newspapers are in trouble.

Remember your audience.  Write to communicate, not to impress.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *