New York Times Grammar and Style

Listen, I love the New York Times. I read it cover to cover (or pixel to pixel) every day and have it delivered in dead-tree format to my doorstep each morning.

But so often I come across an awkward sentence which I have to read and re-read several times to understand.

I’ve been noticing this for a long time now and it makes me wonder whether it’s a stylistic thing or a that they have had to lay off their best editors.

At any rate, I don’t have the same impression when I read he Wall Street Journal (which I admire but don’t love.)

Here’s a recent example:

“LAGOS, Nigeria — In a quarter-century, at the rate Nigeria is growing, 300 million people — a population about as big as that of the present-day United States — will live in a country roughly the size of Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada.” (from NYT)

What do you say, am I crazy?

0 thoughts on “New York Times Grammar and Style

  1. That sentence is perfectly understandable to me, but it reflects a move toward a less formal, more conversational form of writing. I suspect there's a deliberate move toward being less "stuffy" at the Times, which is sad. They should be formal. That's what we expect of them.

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  2. I agree with Pito. It used to be there were no typos or grammatical errors in the Times. Now there are. I suspect that no one is paid to actually proof read (in the old sense) anymore. It is not as bad as the Boston Globe, and these are both much better than almost everything else on the internet. Of course typos have always been with us. In the Reuter's corpus (the David Lewis version) there are over a dozen typos for "yesterday".

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  3. Not crazy. Having two parentheticals/asides almost back-to-back in a single sentence does make reading the passage awkward. Also, comparing a single country's size to the aggregate of three states is awkward.

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