Author Topic: Here is where journalism standards and English language critique intertwine  (Read 5750 times)


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Briton links African to arms smuggling

SOUTH African was the boss of operations involving the m/v Captain Ufuk that the authorities seized last month in Bataan for having been used in gun smuggling, said Bruce Jones, the shipmaster now in custody of the Immigration bureau together with the Panamanian-registered ship’s 13 Georgian crew.

This is one of those convoluted sentences that I would love to chop up for clarity. It was simply trying to say too many things in one sentence. Try reading it out loud and see if you could still breath well.

To my mind, the sentence above leaps out as if it has been determined beyond reasonable doubt that the chief perpetrator of the smuggling attempt was a South African. Although it quotes Mr. Jones as the source of the information it should have been reported as an allegation pending further investigation and fair trial by authorities.

The phrase "for having been used in gun smuggling" is inaccurate. The fact that no gun smuggling was completely carried out simply means the act was thwarted and so it was an unsuccessful attempt at most.

The phrase "the boss of operations involving the m/v Captain Ufuk" is awkward and open to loose interpretations.  The word "boss" is a loosely used term that refers to a manager, an officer, an owner, or a decision maker of an unspecified capacity who is associated to a company.

The word "boss" could be narrowly understood as the ship captain since the name of a ship was written next to it. The confusion grew when Mr. Jones was identified as the "shipmaster" another term that eludes ordinary people. Is a shipmaster synonymous to a skipper or a ship captain, or is it the manager of a ship? We could only guess.

If the suspect is the company owner or the ship owner then he should be referred to as the owner of such. If he was part of a criminal organization then he should be called the ringleader.

In this case, if the exact role of the suspect is undetermined and the only thing clear is that he was the top mind behind the caper then it would suffice if he was identified as the "leader" rather than make experimentations.

The first letter in the word "Immigration" should not have been capitalized since it is not a proper noun. The full name of the country's immigration bureau is the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation or BID for short. Unless this is a matter of style that I am not aware of. If so, then perhaps the first usage is best done with quotation marks.

I would rewrite the sentence this way:

A SOUTH African has been identified as the leader in the gun smuggling attempt in Bataan involving the Panamanian-registered ship m/v Captian Ufuk that was seized by authorities last month. The suspect was identified by Bruce Jones, the British shipmaster, who is now in the custody of the immigration bureau along with the 13 Georgian crew.

The technique here is to bring the subject and the predicate closer with minimal verb or adjective phrase in between. In the first sentence, the time of the event was moved to the end to bring focus to the subject unlike in the original sentence.

Note: the capitalization of "A SOUTH" is a style used in publications to signify the start of the text body.

What do you think?

« Last Edit: September 25, 2009, 01:49:50 PM by Joe Carillo »