Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

MC Weekly

December 18, 2013

RAY MOSCOWITZ: Writing skills catching flak; here's some help

These tips could help you win the job you want.

Almost 60 years after Rudolph Flesch wrote a best-selling book called “Why Johnny Can’t Read: And What You Can Do about It,” CNBC recently posted a story with this headline: “Why Johnny can’t write, and why employers are mad.”

In more than one survey, according to CNBC, employers expressed displeasure over job candidates’ inability to speak and write clearly.

Flesch’s book in 1955 advocated the use of phonics, which had given way to the look-say method to teach reading. The book sent shock waves through the country.

Before writing “Johnny,” Flesch had written books on how to communicate clearly and effectively. “The Art of Plain Talk” in 1946 had received acclaim.

Flesch was not alone. In 1944, Robert Gunning had established a business that provided something called “readability counseling.” Gunning worked with hundreds of writers, and in 1952 he copyrighted “The Technique of Clear Writing.” The opening chapter is titled “The Fight Against Fog.”

CNBC’s story hit home with me.

During my years as a newspaperman, I saw a serious deficiency in writing — not from reporters, but from the general public. Some letters to the editor were almost impossible to comprehend and were replete with spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. Business letters were better written, but they, too, often contained major errors. Copy provided by advertisers was frequently in the same vein.

In 1980, the Hoosier State Press Association asked me to conduct a session on writing at its annual newsroom seminar and awards program. I did a 90-minute presentation that I called “Organizing the Chaos.” Since then I have made that presentation to several newspapers and non-newspaper groups.

Here are some pointers from “Organizing the Chaos” that can help you improve your writing.

• You cannot write well if you don’t gather/research essential facts and information. Substance trumps style. Context — background and meaning — is a must.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
MC Weekly
  • RAY MOSCOWITZ: What is a Hoosier? Here are some answers This is my last column on a regular basis for the MC Weekly — by my own choosing.I want to thank Jeff Kovaleski, managing editor of the Kokomo Tribune, for inviting me to write for the MC Weekly when it began publication in July 2013. It has been an

    August 20, 2014

  • Our current MC Weekly issue

    October 9, 2013

  • SPL - KT081714 - John Martino column - column sig [Duplicate] MARTINO: Glacial lakes offer naturally good fishing Indiana always has been special to me. Although we lack vast expanses of public lands, towering snow-capped mountains or endless oceans, it is home. But our Hoosier State does possess its own uniqueness and beauty.

    August 20, 2014 4 Photos

  • Grissom Fire Department 08 [Duplicate] Military Fire Power

    There are six people trapped inside a burning airplane. You and your partner have 10 minutes to rescue them.And you have to do it blind, groping and crawling in total darkness, burdened down with fire gear and an oxygen tank.Sound impossible? John Ir

    August 20, 2014 13 Photos

  • NWS - KT080714 - Konrath mugshot - CLG [Duplicate] Peru surgeon Konrath jailed on charges of invasion of privacy PERU — A Peru orthopedic surgeon accused of plotting to murder his ex-wife is back in jail without bond after deputies say he violated a court order prohibiting him from contacting people involved in the case.Gregory Konrath, 48, was arrested in July

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Peru police arrest 5 during warrant service PERU — An attempt by police to serve felony warrants Aug. 12 led to the arrest of five Peru residents on multiple charges, including dealing meth and illegal possession of a handgun.Officers went to the 500 block of West 10th Street at around 1:40 p.

    August 20, 2014

  • Miami County Weekly sports briefs The Kokomo Region PGA Junior All-Stars are moving on to the state semifinals after a convincing victory over Muncie on Saturday at Rock Hollow G.C. Kokomo recorded 101/2 flags while Muncie managed just 11/2.

    August 20, 2014

  • Peru Police Tablet 01 Peru police going hi-tech Anyone thinking about committing a crime in Peru now has another reason to think twice.The Peru Police Department might just have its eyes on you. Literally.Assistant Police Chief Rick Keller said officers will begin installing cameras in high-crime

    August 13, 2014 3 Photos

  • SPL - KT081014 - John Martino column - pic 2 [Duplicate] MARTINO: Is expensive equipment really that much better? It was time, or so I thought. It had been several years since I broke down and bought a new spinning reel. Well, OK, several months. But that’s not important. Fishermen can never have too much tackle.

    August 13, 2014 4 Photos

  • Small museum in Mitchell now honors Gus It isn’t much, just a small space in a red brick structure built in 1880. But it’s special to Susan Webster. And what’s special to Susan Webster is special to her husband, Charles.Any day now, Susan and Charles will open the museum portion of Mitchel

    August 13, 2014