Dearest correspondent

Posted: November 11, 2017 at 2 a.m.

And hello to you, too. We appreciate the email. Sure, send us a questionaire about journalism for your college class. Anything we can do to help an aspiring opinion writer.

One thing, though: We're kinda slow. We don't know what it means, this "varying discourse communities within the world of journalism." Do you mean inky wretches? You know, reporters and editors?

With your permission, or even without, we'll give one piece of advice a little earlier than expected: Never again use the phrase "varying discourse communities." Not privately, not publicly. Don't even think it. That sounds too much like something out of a Dilbert cartoon. Or worse, a meeting of Gannett editors, who may insist on calling the newspaper "the product" instead of what it really is.

Real people don't talk like that. As an editor once instructed us, after you've written something, go through the prose and read it out loud. If it sounds like a real conversation, you're onto something. If it sounds like a committee report, throw it away.

For once you've allowed the apparatchiks of the journalism world--and there are many--train you to use jargon and newspeak instead of real words and phrases, you've lost. And not just readers, but your own train of thought.

Language has great power. It shapes thought. Which means it shapes us.

Now then, end of homily. How can we help?

Editorial on 11/11/2017