i newspaper, July 26, 2017

(46 words) While this is not the worst short I have ever seen, it is sloppy and full of superfluous words. Once it is established that the story is about penguins, you do not need to keep repeating the word. ‘After’ is not necessary. Plainly the killings happened after the fox got in, not before. Why do you need the word ‘water’? Obviously the staff who are quoted work at the park, not the nearby greengrocer’s.  Cutting these words leaves room for extra information. Young penguins are called ‘chicks’, not ‘infants’.

This is how I would do it:

Eight Humboldt penguins were killed by a fox which got into their enclosure at Chessington World of Adventures in Surrey. Staff said the victims were five adults and three chicks from a group of 28. A ninth was injured but has recovered since the attack in June. (47 words)

The Telegraph website fared no better on July 25.

Here are some extracts:

[The penguins were] killed by a fox which snuck into the Penguin Bay under the noses of security cameras.

‘Snuck’ is an ugly Americanism. In Britain we say ‘sneaked’. ‘Under the noses of security cameras’ is an odd expression. Perhaps it means ‘eyes’. However, it would be better to rewrite the sentence to include information from further down the story: The enclosure was covered by security cameras which staff admitted were not being monitored when the fox sneaked in.

Employees at the world famous park were allegedly warned not to talk about the penguin massacre.

If it is famous, you don’t need to say so. If it is not famous, the description is inaccurate.

“ . . . it’s not something our zoo license says we have to do,” she continued.

‘License’ is the verb. The spelling required here for the noun is ‘licence’. (Note: In the US the spelling for both verb and noun is ‘license’.)

She added that  . . . an investigation was underway to identify how the fox managed to break in.

‘Under way’ is a nasty piece of newspaperspeak, but if you must use it, at least make it two words. It would be better to say ‘She added that  . . . staff were trying to discover how the fox broke in’, though if they haven’t found out in a month they probably aren’t going to, so it may be better to leave it out.



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