Sunday, March 1

Literature, literacy . . . The Weekend Australian knows it all

As the editorial writer suggested, I read it again, and yes, the passage (above, highlighted) did get muddier every time I did so.

But the sentence might have been a little less confusing if The Weekend Australian's editorial writer had quoted it correctly.

Flick back to education writer Justine Ferrari's Page One report (below), on which the editorial comment is based. If you look hard, you may spot the difference.

It might seem trivial, but one would expect an editorialist who pontificates to the nation about literacy would understand that omission of the hyphen changes the meaning of the sentence. “Meaning-making” does not say the same thing as “meaning making”.

And surely a professional journalist – and I presume the editorial writer to be one – knows he or she should not modify any part of a passage placed within quotation marks. The editorial writer has omitted two commas from the material he purports to quote. Trivial, perhaps, but careless too.

But then, the editorial writer may have taken his quote from copy sent to the artists (probably from a sub-editor) for the graphic reproduced below. The copy sent to the artists also omitted the hyphen and the commas.

I may look like just another blogger attacking The Australian. That would not be right. I believe the Oz to be Australia's best newspaper.

It's thrown over my front fence six days a week. Well, yes, on a discount deal. A call centre person rang me and offered me The Daily Telegraph for $4.95 a week. You'd be joking, I said. How about the Oz? Done!

It's not the perfect arrangement. The Australian has an excellent website, and I was happy to read it there. I'd rather read The Sydney Morning Herald in print. Although it has dumbed down its news website, the print newspaper remains readable and, on controversial issues, even-handed.

The Australian is good but should try to do better if it is to dominate as Australia's national newspaper. Too often, its editors' ideological positions show in its news coverage.

I'll return to this topic soon. In the meantime, you may choose to read Justine Ferrari's report, the editorial which fired me up, and the Oz readers' letters on Monday, March 3.

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