Podcast: Grammar Gremlins

Hello and welcome to the “Writer’s Resource” podcast.

I am your host, Bridget A. Foster, and this is a podcast dedicated to making you the best broadcast television writer you can be.

Today, I’d like to discuss grammar.

Wait – did you hear that?

It was your collective groans.

I get it.  I get it.

It’s not the most glamorous thing we could be talking about, but I promise you this – it’s important.  We’ll talk about why in this podcast.

I wrote an article titled “Grammar Gremlins.”

It was my humorous approach to talking about grammatical issues affecting print and broadcast media outlets across the world.  You can find the article on my website, http://www.BridgetAFoster.com.  Just click on the Coach’s Corner tab.

In the post, I gave you the top five grammar gremlins I am seeing in the broadcast copy I approve every day, in the other news programs I watch and listen to, and in the articles I read.

I tried to make you laugh a couple of times in the article, but it really is a serious situation.

It’s not only permeating news media.

I spoke specifically about that because that is the industry in which I work.

I have seen these mistakes in other venues as well – business websites, magazines, signage in stores.  You name it.

So, what’s the big deal?  I didn’t discuss that in the article, so I wanted to do a podcast to answer that question.

These mistakes do not showcase businesses in a positive light.

The mistakes make companies look unprofessional.

The errors make it look like news organizations did not take extra care copy-editing, so viewers could think perhaps it’s a lackluster company with poor approval processes and people who aren’t qualified to bring the audience the news.

So, our quality is in question.

Also, how many people would wonder “Gee, if they can’t get the grammar correct in the story, can they get the facts straight?”  After all, we’re supposed to be the experts, right?

Think I’m being too harsh?  I don’t, and here’s why.

Think about your own behavior.  Have you ever been looking up a business to see if you want to hire that company?  You head to the website of that business.  It has spelling errors and grammatical issues.  Do you hire that company?  What is your first impression?

If we’re being honest here, and my podcasts are an honesty only zone, the answer is you likely moved on to another business.  Why?  It’s because the one with all the errors seems unprofessional, amateurish, and it’s clear the business pays little attention to detail.

Now, what if someone handed you a resume with all sorts of errors?  You will file that resume away — right into the trash.

I think I have demonstrated my point.

There are quite a few ways to find the grammar gremlins before your story goes live on the air or online.

One of the best ways is to get a second pair of eyes on your copy.  There is usually a copy-editor of some sort in the newsroom to help with this, but that’s not always available in other businesses.  However, see if a colleague can help you out.

Walk away from the copy for a while.  When you’ve been looking at the same piece of work for an extended period, your eyes will tend to see what you meant to write instead of what you actually wrote.  Many times, a bit of a break will help you spot the errors.

Read backwards or read out loud.  Reading backwards is just enough of a disruption to break that eye/brain phenomenon and allow you to find the mistake.  Reading out loud also will help you discover grammatical errors and find passages that might be awkward.

If all else fails, there are professional copy-editing/proofreading services available for this as well.  You can check out http://www.BridgetAFoster.com to find out about the copy-editing services I offer.

For the “Writer’s Resource” podcast, I’m Bridget A. Foster … and remember –great writing takes practice.  Write now, and write often.

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