Editing for Logic

Editing for Logic

Negative Sports Media

Needs Work: Professional sports are known as great entertainment, but some people only find and report the negative news that they hear or see. News reporters, for example the reporters of newspapers and news shows, don’t always write about what happens on the field, but rather find aspects of what professional players do wrong off of the field.

The first sentence sets up a false contradiction. There’s nothing contradictory about:
A: Sports are great entertainment
B: Reporters go negative
As a consequence, readers don’t know what to make of the very first sentence, and the author loses most of her credibility.

Revised to show a more obvious contradiction:
A: Sports are thrilling for the physical feats on display in athletic competition.
B: However, many reporters ignore the spectacle on the field and concentrate only on reporting negative off-the-field activities.

The revised version is identical in content to the second sentence of the Needs Work version, a clear demonstration that the first sentence was wasteful and confusing.

Exercise:

  • Rewrite the paragraph in a Reply below, in one sentence or two.
  • Identify your comment as “Negative Sports Media.”

Learning in Our Sleep

Needs Work. Sleep is the most effective tool a person can utilize when wanting to improve the performance and efficiency of their brain. The more sleep someone gets the better their performance on exams and anything they are trying to learn will be.

The sentences Fail For Grammar (FFG) twice for pronoun disagreement (a person/their brain) (someone/their performance/they). But besides that, they’re also quite wordy and get the essay off to a very slow start.

The sentence says: Sleep is the most effective tool a person can utilize when wanting to improve the performance and efficiency of their brain.
Which means: Sleep improves the brain’s efficiency.

The sentence says: The more sleep someone gets the better their performance on exams and anything they are trying to learn will be.
Which means: Sleeping longer helps us learn and perform better on exams.

Exercise:

  • Rewrite the paragraph in a Reply below, in two sentences (or one if you can manage it). Consider using a brief, simple illustration. The tone is informational but light.
  • Identify your comment as “Hooray Sleep.”

Failing Schools

Needs Work: The replacement of large failing public schools with smaller “specialized” schools will successfully guide underprivileged students in the right direction to become successful. Many disadvantaged students in areas like New York City are forced to attend large high schools with extremely low graduation rates. These high schools are overcrowded with students and understaffed with teachers. Classrooms are filled above capacity and the “schools are simply under managed.” These inner city areas consist of countless students living in poverty and receiving an education without the proper motivation and techniques needed to succeed.

The sentences introduce plenty of material but are wordy and repetitious.

Fat: The replacement of large failing public schools with smaller “specialized” schools will successfully guide underprivileged students in the right direction to become successful
Lean: Underprivileged students are more likely to succeed when large failing public schools are replaced with smaller “specialized” schools.

Fat: Many disadvantaged students in areas like New York City are forced to attend large high schools with extremely low graduation rates.
Lean (combine with 1st sentence): Underprivileged students in New York City are more likely to graduate when large failing public schools are replaced with smaller “specialized” schools.

Fat: These high schools are overcrowded with students and understaffed with teachers.
Lean: (Combine 1st 3 sentences): Underprivileged students in New York City are more likely to graduate when the overcrowded, understaffed public schools they’re forced to attend are replaced with smaller “specialized” schools.

Fat: Classrooms are filled above capacity and the “schools are simply under managed.”
Lean (combine with 1, 2, 3): Underprivileged students in New York City are more likely to graduate when the overcrowded, understaffed, badly managed public schools they’re forced to attend are replaced with smaller “specialized” schools, says Bill Moyers.

Fat: These inner city areas consist of countless students living in poverty and receiving an education without the proper motivation and techniques needed to succeed.
Lean: Inner-city students already living in poverty deserve better than failing schools that don’t motivate them or teach them to succeed.

Final Product: 

Underprivileged students in New York City are more likely to graduate when the overcrowded, understaffed, badly managed public schools they’re forced to attend are replaced with smaller “specialized” schools, says Bill Moyers. Inner-city students already living in poverty deserve better than failing schools that don’t motivate them or teach them to succeed.

Exercise: Expand the final two-sentence version back out to three or four sentences, adding a hook, a brief illustration, or an expression of opinion.

  • Identify your comment as “Failing Schools.”

Death with Dignity

Needs Work. Paul Lamb, 57, was left quadriplegic in a horrific car accident twenty- three years ago. He lives day by day in pain. His only release is the constant drip of morphine into his body. Mr. Lamb is not the man that he wanted to be, having to be dependent on the help from others. He describes his life as “unbearable” because of the intense pain. He has gone to court multiple times in the hope that someone will be merciful and allow him to end his suffering, but he got rejected.

The paragraph suffers from a choppy, repetitive sentence structure. Every sentence begins with Paul Lamb or a pronoun referring to Paul Lamb. The result is a series of  five unrelated statements that make no argument.

One Solution: Paul Lamb, 57, deserves the right to be released from his pain and dependency. For 23 years, he has lived in unbearable pain, or debilitated by a morphine drip that eases the body’s agony without relieving his total dependence on others since quadriplegia deprived him of the use of his limbs. Since he cannot be the man he wants to be, Lamb has spent years unsuccessfully battling the courts for the right to end his suffering.

Exercise: Rewrite the same material to emphasize why Mr. Lamb, and nobody else, should have the right to decide his fate.

  • Identify your comment as “Mr. Lamb’s Dignified Death.”

5 Responses to Editing for Logic

  1. frogs02 says:

    Negative sports media: Professional sports are known as great entertainment, there are negative effects such as the news reporters. The reporters of newspapers and news shows, don’t always write about what happens on the field, but rather find aspects of what professional players do wrong off of the field.

    Like

    • davidbdale says:

      It’s short, frogs, but does it communicate?
      1. Professional sports are known as great entertainment, there are negative effects such as the news reporters.
      —Grammatically, this is known as a “comma splice.” It is two sentences (two independent clauses) connected by a comma alone. That’s not a legal sentence. You need a subordinator, a conjunction, a period, or a semicolon.
      —One option: Professional sports are known as great entertainment, BUT reporters who cover the sports beat are not.
      2. The reporters of newspapers and news shows, don’t always write about what happens on the field, but rather find aspects of what professional players do wrong off of the field.
      —This is accurate, but again, does it communicate? What’s the value of this difference you point out?
      —One option: The reporters of newspapers and news shows THE BRILLIANT PLAYS on the field, but CONCENTRATE INSTEAD ON what professional players do wrong off of the field.
      Do you see how, even in the shortest and least auspicious bits of text, we can always find an opportunity to PROMOTE A THESIS, which is to say, make an argument?

      Like

  2. strawberryfields4 says:

    “Negative Sports Media”
    Spectators of professional sports enjoy the thrill and excitement of watching talented athletes. However, news reporters unfortunately often focus on negative aspects of the athletes’ lives off of the field rather than their athletic performances.

    “Hooray Sleep”
    Sleep increases overall brain function, often resulting in improved learning and performance on exams.

    “Failing Schools”
    Underprivileged students living in poverty in inner cities are more motivated and successful in smaller “specialized” schools, rather than overcrowded and understaffed public school districts.

    “Mr. Lamb’s Dignified Death”
    57 year old, quadripledgic Paul Lamb’s multiple requests to end his own life have been rejected in court. He seeks relief from the “unbearable” pain that he suffers as a result of a car accident twenty-three years ago, despite his constant morphine drip.

    Like

  3. davidbdale says:

    “Negative Sports Media”
    Spectators of professional sports enjoy the thrill and excitement of watching talented athletes. However, news reporters unfortunately often focus on negative aspects of the athletes’ lives off of the field rather than their athletic performances.
    Exactly right, Strawberries. You’ve made a clear argument out of the available material. You did so by creating two distinct categories with clearly different objectives: SPECTATORS thrill to the ON field activity; REPORTERS dig through the mud of the OFF-FIELD activity. Very nice.

    “Hooray Sleep”
    Sleep increases overall brain function, often resulting in improved learning and performance on exams.
    I especially like that you found a way to credit BOTH overall learning AND performance on exams.

    “Failing Schools”
    Underprivileged students living in poverty in inner cities are more motivated and successful in smaller “specialized” schools, rather than overcrowded and understaffed public school districts.
    Brilliant condensation. Wonderful but not perfect in its execution:
    ——The right combination is MORE . . . THAN. Not MORE . . . RATHER THAN.
    ——You don’t want to compare SCHOOLS to DISTRICTS.
    ——So: “Underprivileged students living in poverty in inner cities are more motivated and successful in smaller “specialized” schools THAN IN overcrowded and understaffed public SCHOOLS.

    “Mr. Lamb’s Dignified Death”
    57 year old, quadriplegic Paul Lamb’s multiple requests to end his own life have been rejected in court. He seeks relief from the “unbearable” pain that he suffers as a result of a car accident twenty-three years ago, despite his constant morphine drip.
    Again wonderful work. It doesn’t quite single out Lamb as “uniquely” qualified, but it makes a good case. Couple things:
    ——57-year-old. [1. He’s 57 years old. His car is 57 years old. But he’s a 57-year-old. And he has a 57-year-old car.] Get it?
    ——The quotation marks around “unbearable” indicate skepticism on the writer’s part. Do you not believe him?
    ——He didn’t have a car accident despite his morphine drip. He suffers despite his morphine drip. If possible, move the morphine drip closer to the suffering. [He seeks relief from the unbearable pain that, despite his constant morphine drip, he suffers at all times from a car accident twenty-three years ago.]

    Impressive work! 🙂

    Like

  4. toastedflatbread22 says:

    “Negative Sports Media”
    Professional sports are an exciting and fun spectacle, however, news reporters tend to focus on the boring behind-the-scenes aspect of the game and the player drama.
    “Horray Sleep”
    Sleep is vital for a healthy brain, especially if the brain will be used for schoolwork and exams.
    “Failing Schools”
    Disadvantaged students in poverty-stricken New York deserve to learn in small “specialized” schools. Their current large high schools are undermanaged, understaffed, and resulting in failing students with no techniques for quality learning.
    “Mr. Lamb’s Dignified Death”
    Quadrapalegic, Paul Lamb has not lived the life he wanted ever since being in a horrific car accident, twenty-three years ago and now he is being denied assisted death. He only finds relief from the constant drip of morphine, otherwise living in “unbearable” pain and hoping for some sort of release.

    Like

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