Generally, I would like to get my news and analysis from leftist and left-leaning sources. This is more difficult than it sounds, however, because of the levels of writing at these outlets are subpar. This is due partly to their overindulgence of prose that I find obnoxious, but hey, not everyone can be an award-winning writer of fiction and besides, picking apart people’s prose is one of the most mean-spirited and childish things a person can do.
What I cannot stand is in a piece of news or analysis is the inability to communicate clearly, or to think through a piece of writing so that it is something other than a 500 word exercise in stream-of-consciousness. A third pet peeve is that many pieces of writing could be vastly improved by simply chopping off the first 20% or so.
This piece by Mother Jones is an example of an inability to communicate clearly. I read the first 8 paragraphs and gave up. Why? Allow me to explain in a way that is both concise and easy to understand.
1.) The first section of the article is about “trespass grows.” I assume this is marijuana grown on other people’s property, apparently in national parks. But this is all inferred, since the author of the article does not bother to define this piece of jargon that he uses five times, focusing instead on the shit of forest animals and other rustic details.
2.) The title suggest the article is about the environmental impact of growing marijuana. The first section is a story about the writer traveling with forest rangers. Not exactly on-topic, but I can see how it would lead to broader environmental concerns. Instead, the next section launches into another, unrelated anecdote. I don’t see where it’s going, and I’m done.
Maybe I should be focused on the facts instead of the style, but how these stories are structured and what details are included directly affect my estimation of the brainpower and trustworthiness of the reporter. Too many reporters would rather ape Hemingway than do their best to educate and inform their readers.