Have you noticed anything about the stories the media reports on the evening news ? Well, if you haven’t, perhaps you haven’t been paying too much attention, or maybe you don’t watch mainstream news. But I do. I live out in the country and don’t get cable. I could have a satellite dish, but that seems like overkill. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have a TV at all. I know I’m a dinosaur or at least a Luddite about many things, including…grammar. I am an English teacher after all, and that is perhaps why this trend bothers me so much. Here’s an example from ABC News just this morning, a video example, but if you prefer to read the transcript, I’ve provided that in the post. I could have picked any news show; they have all adopted this trend. I just happened to be watching ABC this particular morning. I’ve italicized the parts that bother me. (The names of some of the people may be incorrect. Just chalk it up to my distracted state from listening so closely to this grammar transgression.) See if you can guess the reason for my irritation.
Here is the transcript of the above link. Rhode Island Beach Explosion Raises Safety Concerns
Robin Roberts: With that mysterious explosion on a Rhode Island Beach, the blast so forceful it knocked one woman onto the rocks, sending her to the hospital. This morning that beach is back open and we’re hearing from that woman.
Actual Report from Linzie Janis:
Janis: Good Morning Robin. That woman was sitting in her beach chair with her toes in the water, when suddenly the ground beneath her exploded, throwing her up into the air and sending dozens of others scrambling to safety.
Janis: This morning the beach goer thrown into the air by a mysterious explosion speaking out, saying she has no memory of the incident.
Danise, the Beach goer: It was a beautiful day. The beach was busy. There were a lot of people there. The last thing I remember was reading my book.
Janis: Investigators still trying to figure out what caused the apparent explosion on this crowded New England beach.
Unnamed Eyewitness: People started screaming and running.
Janis: The powerful blast ocurring along this jetty on Saturday, seemingly coming from under ground, launching 60 year old Kathleen Danise into the air, and slamming her down onto the rocks.
Friend of the beachgoer: She was like a human cannon, just four feet up ten feet out, smacked on her torso.
Janis: Paramedics carrying Danise away on a stretcher with two broken ribs and a concussion. Authorities then evacuating the popular beach, calling in the bomb squad.
Bomb Squad member: We know that it wasn’t man-made.
Janis: Officials here mystified.
Larry Mouradjian: There appears to have been some ground disturbance. There is definitely something that happened there.
Janis: Some beach goers said they smelled gas after the explosion, but the gas company said there is no line under the beach, and the US Geological Survey telling ABC News there was no seismic activity in that area.
Lucy Jones, Ph. D.: You aren’t going to see an explosion like this from a geologic source without a seismic record.
Janis: But Danise’s family still concerned about safety on that beach.
Danise: We went back there this morning. There was no caution tape up, and having kids climb the rock walls
Janis: This morning it’s open to the public, but Danise says she’s not going back any time soon.
Danise: That was my favorite location. Until we know what actually happened, no.
Janis: Now the blast left a hole in the sand, but within 24 hours authorities had filled it in and reopened this beach even though they still have no idea what caused the explosion. Robin and George, right now they won’t even say they have a theory.
Did you guess? The news is using participial phrases to speak. What?! Yes, and it is driving me crazy! I want to know who started this trend and why. Is it only to vex those of us who actually still care about the English language and the way we are perceived in the world. Is it to bring immediacy to the news, as though it is still happening, so we should care about it right now? Why?
I have a really hard time teaching my students how to write because the media constantly misuse words and phrases. This time they are speaking in phrases rather than complete sentences. If you don’t remember what participial phrases are, check here. Please, someone who has far more power and influence than I, make them stop!!! If not for me, then for the sake of my students. If nothing else, take pity on me and other English teachers in the country who sincerely try to teach students to write and speak correctly. Set a good example for the students in the United States, Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, and Linzie Janis. Start a media revolution; speak in complete sentences rather than phrases! For the love of English, do it. Please?