Monday, November 19, 2007
Make your language clear!
Maybe I'm picking at nits because of a sense of outrage and grief at news I received this morning, but do you find problems in the following sentence, as reported by the Arizona Republic, Arizona's newspaper of record?
"A 26-year-old LDS church in Mesa nearly burned to the ground early Monday morning, fire officials said."
To me, the wording connotes that major damage was somehow averted, that there was a close call, but the peril of devastating fire was avoided.
What happened is that the building indeed did burn, and is a total loss, with exterior walls still partially standing. Perhaps this sentence more clearly reflects what happened:
A 26-year-old LDS church in Mesa burned nearly to the ground early Monday morning, fire officials said.
I know, I know, I've overdoing it. I have attended meetings and events in the building in question several times over the last 25 years, so I'm probably shell-shocked. I'm taking my rage out on a pair of reporters who misplaced a modifier.
But, my question to you, gentle readers, is this: which sentence more accurately tells the story, the original or the one I altered?