Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Crappy Writing in Huntsville’s nearly defunct newspaper

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, November 10, 2012

Critique with explanation follows the story.

Huntsville police searching for man who entered family’s hotel room, took laptop and fled

By Kelly Kazek | kkazek@al.com
November 10, 2012 at 8:59 AM, updated November 10, 2012 at 10:39 AM

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – A family was asleep in a hotel in the 3000 block of University Drive when a man entered the room at about 3:45 a.m., according to a Huntsville Police report.

Police are searching for a black male after a father stated he burglarized the room. The victim said his wife awoke as a man entered the room. The offender then told the woman he was a hotel manager and that a laptop computer in their room had been reported stolen. He grabbed the computer and fled.

After the victim verified the offender was not a manager he notified authorities.

Police said entry into the room was not forced.

The investigation is ongoing.


The Huntsville Times is owned by the same privately-held publishing group Advance Publications/Newhouse News, which also owns the Birmingham News, Mobile Press-Register & New Orleans Times-Picayune… all which are now printed only on Sunday, Wednesday & Friday.

In other words, the “suits” can’t figure out how to make money.

1.) Headline is excessively lengthy

2.) Story is poorly written.
– The second sentence, which reads “Police are searching for a black male after a father stated he burglarized the room,” indicates that the father burgled the room, rather than “a black male,” as specifically stated in the story.
– The name of the hotel/motel is not stated. Why not? Motels/hotels in the 3000 block of University Drive are: a.) Red Carpet Inn; b.) Economy Inn, c.) Quality Inn; d.) La Quinta Inn; e.) Value Place.} http://goo.gl/maps/t2fDC

Y’know… it’s difficult to imagine that folks obtain a university education to write at or below the 5th grade level.

8 Responses to “Crappy Writing in Huntsville’s nearly defunct newspaper”

  1. Cyndia M said

    Standing! Clapping! At last, someone else who understands what I go through every time I read the newspaper. The mistakes the writers make are violations of rules taught in high school English!
    The television stations do it too. To answer the questions “who”, “what”, “when”, “where”, and “why” would seem relative easy, right?
    Apparently not.


    • Warm Southern Breeze said

      Hi Cyndia! There are numerous reasons why I’ve never been enamored with that paper, not the least of which is poor writing. The second is a dearth of news. And Heaven knows there’s no shortage of news. It’s just that they don’t write it. And now, since it’s published so infrequently, I have even fewer reasons to like it. (I’m trying to decide if that’s something bad, or good.) If the course of events continue the way they now seem to be headed, soon, that oddly inverse relationship of Like : Publishing Frequency will reach its zenith. Or, should that instead be abyss?


  2. Kelly Kazek said

    Hello, all. As the author of the story above, I thought I would clarify a few things. Firstly, I always appreciate input from readers and take it to heart. I also make every effort to help those who are not in the industry better understand our efforts to get news to the public.
    I have a degree in English from Auburn University (I am sure Bama fans will insert a joke here) and have been a journalist for 22 years. Before coming to al.com in October, I was an editor for 11 years. I am the author of eight books and have been a syndicated columnist. I am president of the Alabama Associated Press Managing Editors and have won numerous awards, including several national press awards.
    After listing my qualifications, I will say this about the critique above. It is correct. That sentence was poorly written. Sometimes, in an effort to get information posted quickly, we don’t see our own mistakes. We generally work on our own for the online edition in an effort to get the information to people in a timely manner. As for the headline, because we write for an online audience and are not limited by space, we put whatever words we need to make sure someone finds the story they seek.
    I also will say that anyone — English major, English professor, Mensa member — who posts from 4 to 8 stories each day will, at some point, use writing that might be considered sloppier than, say, a doctoral dissertation.
    Have any of you put your daily work in print for several hundred thousand people to see and critique each day? If you haven’t, you might consider cutting us some slack and realize we want you to know what is going on in your community and we work hard to accomplish this.
    Thanks for allowing the response.


    • Warm Southern Breeze said

      Hi Kelly! Thanks for reading, and perhaps most importantly, for your response! Here’s hoping all is well with you, and yours as we enter this Advent season.

      The educational credentials and accomplishments which you mention are indeed impressive, for which you should indeed be acknowledged and justifiably commended. Summarizing, “bully for you!” Similarly as you, I too am university educated, and in fact, possess, and have earned, two university degrees from two separate institutions in two separate programs, along with a college degree, have accumulated numerous professional accolades in the public and private sectors, including “atta-boys,” maintain professional licenses and certifications in several states (which also require annual Continuing Education), including professional journalism education (in addition to the educations mentioned previously) and journalism accolades, as well – which I won before attending journalism school. So, I suppose that in any proverbial “pissing contest,” I could most definitely hold my own… unless someone wanted to hold it for me. And yet, it’s well known that long-term (chronic) urinary retention can create problems, not the least of which may be bacterial infection, so anyone should avoid holding it. Let it all out, with regularity.

      Now that we’ve dispensed some free health advice (don’t say that I never gave you anything), let’s continue toward our objective.

      As is often said, “it’s just business; it’s not personal.” Such is this case and scenario, for my criticism is not a personal one – which would be one such as “your breath stinks, and so does your mama.” I opine on what I would characterize as a broad lowering of the quality of news products, of the Fourth Estate and of writing and written communicative arts in general. As I continue to say, it’s amazing that folks earn university degrees to write at, or below the 5ifth grade level. Given that nearly 90% of Americans have graduated high school, it certainly seems peculiar – even disconcerting – to write as though they have the mental capacity of a 10-year old child. In my estimation, to do so is not merely a disservice to the profession of journalism, but is a condescension of the worst kind, which has it’s basis, I believe, in arrogance.

      While it would seem that writing for simplicity’s sake would be desirable, to do so does not mean that writing on a 5ifth grade level – or lower, “See Dick run. Run, Dick, run.” – I perceive that it is intellectual laziness to continually abdicate one’s responsibility to uphold established standards, or norms, and pander to a grossly misdirected lowest common denominator. After all, very nearly 90% of the American public has at least a High School education.

      It seems too, by your remarks, that editors too have failed in their responsibility, not only in their oversight of the writing craft, but in the direction of the journalistic endeavor, by and through public accountability to be an independent and vigorous defender of First Amendment rights, and “watchdog” over public officials and others. For example, issues pertaining to the Redstone Arsenal, government contracting (and the numerous eggs-in-one-basket approach the city government has taken to it’s growth), NASA, and more could all be ongoing topics of investigation and oversight, though they are not. Those and other criticisms are warranted and justified, for the paper has failed it’s responsibility to the public in that regard.

      Concerning the business operations, that too is a public failure, witness that the corporate executives – those highly knowledgeable individuals whom are supposed to be able to turn a profit – cannot figure out how to do so with one minute business, which is one of perhaps thousands in their collective news-gathering & publishing stables. It is, in essence, an admittance of incompetence.

      Based strictly upon your concluding response, it seems to me, that my commentary – and your acknowledgement – of poor quality has struck a nerve, although I might imagine one would receive it with gratefully appreciation, for it is a call to higher standards. And yet, you then proceed to make excuse, rather than ask for grace, which earns my utter ire. And though I may be the proverbial “voice of one crying in the wilderness,” I shall continue to hold your, and other Fourth Estate members, feet to the fire.

      Although we may not agree on everything all the time (show me two people who do!), or even upon this solitary item, your – and others’ – thoughts, comments and opinions are welcome here anytime!

      Thanks again for sharing! Wishing for you and yours, a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy holiday season!


  3. Kelly Kazek said

    Not making excuses, nor would I enter a “pissing contest” with anyone. I was merely pointing out we all have jobs to do, and most of us make every effort to do so without error. However, I have yet to meet a perfect person or a perfect writer and I am certainly neither. I am, though, a damn good writer and a well respected journalist, bringing to the public important information about their communities. What I was asking, and you overlooked, was for understanding that I put myself out there every day for people like you to see one mistake and draw broad conclusions about the state of journalism and apparently the universe. I do not take offense, nor do I take it personally. The only reason I ever use my time to respond to such comments is to try to let people know that I am not a corporation, or even a newspaper. I am a person.
    It is always nice when people understand the importance of this role and give community journalists some support, while also holding them accountable. Thanks again.


    • Warm Southern Breeze said

      Not being familiar with the body of your work, my commentary was exclusively limited to that one story. Yet, based upon your response above, it does seem incongruous at best, and disingenuous at worst, to on one hand, write that “I am a person,” (is stating the obvious necessary?) while simultaneously writing that “I do not take offense, nor do I take it personally.” The same could be said for “listing my qualifications,” and them claiming “nor would I enter a “pissing contest” with anyone.”


  4. Kelly Kazek said

    Oh, and why do you feel the need to criticize anonymously? Talk about earning someone’s ire. I am laughing, by the way.


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