MR PENDLE: ‘Cut and paste’ hasn’t made the journalist’s job easier

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ONE of the cornerstones of the journalism industry in the 21st Century is the increasing use of email to send out Press releases.

In the old days, everything was sent by post, or interviews were done in person or over the telephone.

Then the fax machine saw the number of posted items start to dwindle - although everything had still to be typed in.

And now, with emails, less typing is necessary - the use of “cut and paste” makes the job quicker - but not necessarily all that easier.

One of the main reasons is that people quoted in Press releases do not say things any more. They comment - and to make things read properly on the printed page, they have to be changed.

Now Mr Pendle’s journalism training more than 30 years ago included reading a book by former Times editor Harold Evans in which he deplored the use of a variety of words which all mean say or said.

Where this all began - and where all these modern-day PR people learned their trade - Mr Pendle has no idea.

But what he does know is that every time he finds someone has commented on something, rather than said it, the 21st Century equivalent of the deskman’s red pencil - the delete button - is used to remove it and said or its derivations is used as a replacement.

After all, if the use of a simple verb like “to say” and its derivations was good enough for journalism great Harold Evans - and his book Newsman’s English is still on his desk today - then it is more than good enough for Mr Pendle.

The recent story about the bizarre reasons why people call for an ambulance showed just how ignorant some members of the human race are.

And top of the pile, in Mr Pendle’s humble opinion, was the woman who dialled 999 because her daughter had trodden in some dog faeces.

The woman, apparently, was too squeamish to clean the shoe herself - and requested accident and emergency staff clean it for her.

Now why the woman felt it necessary to call 999 instead of asking a friend to help her in her moment of distress was not revealed.

But it begs the questions - what does she think the emergency service is there for?

And what would she have said had she had had a genuine need for an ambulance but was forced to wait because someone else’s child had walked in a dog’s mess and demanded A and E staff clean up their shoes?

Mr Pendle suspects that she might have seen things somewhat differently - but as it was, she told the rest of us to take a running jump.