An emailer this morning brought up a point I hear constantly from readers:
By Derek Donovan
The Kansas City Star
When did The Star begin using so much slang? Maybe this is a sports-page-only kind of thing? Specifically, I saw the word clutch used as an adjective, and then the word stank in reference to the Royals. Maybe I am being a snob I'm trying to picture The NY Times doing the same thing.
Is this kind of a way to appeal to younger, male readers? Or maybe sports writers have some leeway?
There is no hard and fast rule about this kind of thing. However, my emailer is correct in noting that he sees it in the Sports section particularly. More informal writing also appears in some Features sections, and its my impression that it shows up most often in stories about pop culture, as opposed to serious-minded profiles, for example.
Columnists in the Opinion section also often write with more voice or personality than used in news reports. There its most defensible, in my opinion. The very point of a column is to convey ones personal thoughts, and idiosyncratic language provides a useful window into a writers point of view.
Readers will also notice that while Sports and sometimes Features sections often use puns and other wordplay in headlines, those tricks rarely show up on straight news stories. Obviously, theyd be in very poor taste in many instances.
Whether or not the informal, slang-filled approach to writing bothers you is a matter of personal taste. I think the reader above cites a good example of The New York Times sports coverage, which is subjectively to me more formal, even stilted, in comparison to The Stars. But I also find that makes The Stars writing more engaging and approachable. Im one of those who finds dry writing about an inherently frivolous topic (baseball, movies) somehow off-putting.
Still, theres no question that many readers feel everything in The Star should adhere to the strictest standards when it comes to the use of language. Its a fair debate.