Assaults on English

What is it about English that bureaucrats and middle managers feel that they can destroy it by reassembling the 26 letters that they have available into gobbledygook and nonsense?

At random, today, here are two examples of junk writing that should never have passed muster.

The first comes from the Department of Conservation. It published it on the government tender alert system, which sends out invitations to tender to those who have subscribed to the service.

DOC invited potential tenderers to an “early market engagement session – Conservation Information Ecosystem Programme”. What? What is an “early market engagement session”? Government departments are fond of “engagement” when they’re searching for a noun that sounds more interesting than “information”. Instead of just informing us, they’re going to engage us, in the same way that a playful kitten might engage a toddler.

It was painful to read the full invitation, so I progressed only far enough to find out what it was that they were talking about because I earn a living in part by responding to and winning the odd tender. It turns out that “The Department of Conservation is scoping a programme of work to create an information ecosystem with a focus on collaboration … known as the Conservation Information Ecosystem (CIE)”. Ah, why didn’t they say so? Hang on. What the hell does that mean?

Another paragraph, my brain is starting to ache. It becomes clear: “The CIE Programme will look at collaboration as well as capture, classification, storage, search, sharing and management systems for documents and digital assets”. So DOC wants proposals for a document management system. Why the hell can’t it say so before the fifth paragraph?

The second example is a Wellington radio station, 2ZB, that wants to hire a “team leader”. In my experience, “team leaders” are managers in all but name so that the salary is less. But whatever, the job description includes: “You’ll coach and mentor a senior reporter, sportscaster and (on occasion) an intern, inspiring a newsroom vision of excellence”

Inspiring a newsroom vision of excellence? Repeat that a few times. It is junk writing. There’s nothing in the advertisement about breaking stories, finding new angles to old stories, accuracy or writing ability. It’s all in the poverty-stricken babble of middle management.

George Orwell, why did you die? You bastard, we still need you!