Monday, November 21, 2005

Couldn't have put it better

I'm cribbing from someone else's humor tonight - I have to write a news article on biosensor research! This should be interesting, as I have no idea what the word "biosensor" means! Perhaps if I puncutate every sentence in the article with an exclamation point, people will be too excited to care!

In an episode of sheer masochism, I've badgered the student papers to let me write for them. I must say, it's a bit of a different world here. I've been admonished not to succomb to "feature writing," which they apparently equate to the piddling drivel that comes out of the Sun and the Daily Mirror. Here's how they view features:

Features writing is entirely different from news, and can sometimes allow more creativity. It can be tempting, especially as students, to show off our literary flair. However, reporters in news must resist this temptation – a flair for news can be achieved in other ways!

“We’ve all done it – you’re close to an essay deadline, and Ask Jeeves has the perfect solution. A quick download and you’ve found out exactly what caused the French Revolution. But your copying days might be numbered.”

Instead, what would be more suitable would be, “A new report published this week has urged universities to crack down on plagiarists.”

It can be tempting, especially as journalists, not to BORE our readers to death. Maybe that's a watered-down, American preference. Actually, given the food and the weather here, I'm starting to suspect that British people take undue delight in personal suffering.

Seriously, though. How are you supposed to simplify an article that involves the phrases "peptide aptamers" and "polycrystalline silicon thin film transistors"? I really wanted the story about digging up long-dead champion racehorses to analyze their DNA, but I had to settle for the table scraps that remained after all the veteran reporters gobbled the rest.

Oh, yes, the humor to which I said I'd refer you. Here it is! Anyone who's lived in England will really appreciate it, particularly the bits about roundabouts, brusque waitresses and "zed," which is the letter z. I'm not kidding. It is not called "z" here; it is called zed, and if you make the mistake of calling it z, you will be the subject of much eye-rolling and half-muttered, "Americans." The same thing happens when you ask for the check at dinner. Trust me.

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