Monday, December 28, 2009

Clarity is not an ornament

A great many people, when they write prose, think clarity is optional. They believe it is an ornament, and that the essence of writing is “just get it down on paper.”

Frank Rich (pictured), one of the few literate writers left at The New York Times, recently gave us a nicely stated example of the value of clear writing:

“You’d think after Enron’s collapse that financial leaders and government overseers would question the contents of ‘exotic’ investments that could not be explained in plain English. But only a few years after Enron’s very public and extensively dissected crimes, the same bankers, federal regulatory agencies and securities-rating companies were giving toxic ‘assets’ a pass. We were only too eager to go along for the lucrative ride until it crashed like Tiger’s Escalade.”

The Takeaway: Clear writing can be worth a trillion or two. Maybe more.

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