In every human endeavour, time is of essence. People are in a hurry to flip through the content of the newspaper, read the headlines, listen to the radio and watch the television, follow the news bulletin, and of course, the kickers and riders, as the case may be, and move on to other things that may occupy their minds for the rest of the day, especially so for the busy executives and sole proprietors. The smart editor or manager of news now devices ways and means to hold down his/her readers with screaming and attention-getting headlines that summarise the day’s news. Multiple kickers and or riders are splashed on the front pages of the typical Nigerian tabloids, for example, to court the reading publics and spur them to action. So it is with the written and spoken word. The majorities are no longer at home with elongated, long winding and time consuming statements.
It’s therefore the responsibility of the writer, the journalist and the reporter to write short and simple sentences and not to bore the reading and listening audience. In short, it is the duty of the gatekeeper, the editor to trim down or cut out unnecessary word or phrase that add little or nothing to the reporter’s story but still maintains the quality and improve on the original work after pruning what I call the excess baggage. There are several of these long winding expressions that should be shortened to help the listener, for the broadcast media especially, to grasp the news without straining his/her ears, enjoy it without having to rush for the dictionary to look up certain words otherwise the news would have been over before he/she returns to his/her seat. After all, news should not just stop at being informative and educative but also to be entertaining. How do we achieve this? Avoid flowery language that may end up confusing the listener. Write simple, clear and short sentences.
Here, the newsroom maxim, keep it short and simple-KISS, takes preeminence. One of such commonly used but stale phrases, ‘leaving much to be desired’ has gained so much notoriety that it’s time to say ‘pack your load and go, we have had enough of you.’ Can one find a better alternative or replacement for the long winding and boring expression, ‘leaving much to be desired?’ The answer depends on you and the extent you can go in your vocabulary. However, it is estimated that the average adult vocabulary is about eighteen to ten thousand words. But can we say that for the learner or one who English is second language? We cannot be too certain in the absence of verifiable statistics.
But in all, there are more functional words that can suitably take the place of the hackneyed or worn out phrase, ‘leaving much to be desired,’ without causing any harm. In place of the old construction, ‘leaving much to be desired’ steps in the simple but straight forward and penetrating word, ‘unsatisfactory.’ Or better still, prefers the adjective, ‘bad,’ rather than indulge in high sounding statements to further alienate the audience. Simplicity, as it is often said, is the watch word in this era of getting things done quickly. This should also reflect in the way we write and pass information across to the consumer. Precision and straight to the point is the normal, in a fast moving world. You have to move with the time otherwise you will be left behind. So, editors, news managers and others playing the gate keeping role in the media should always endeavour to eliminate those extra words and sometimes jargons that do not add to the free flow of information nor flavour the work of the writer.