PD Internal Memo: Could Our Readers Be Idiots?

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Okay, so the internal memo posted on The Daily Bellwether site doesn't expressly say that, but it's distinctly implied. According to the unnamed author, The Plain Dealer needs to lower its literary standards. The memo refers to a computer program that rates stories based on their education level, noting that a recent piece about Dennis Kucinich came in at a 12-grade level -- much to high, by the author's reckoning -- when it could have been reduced to third-grade fare. The essential argument: You can write like you play Yu-Gi-Oh cards and still not suck. The thesis, of course, is not particularly new. Nor is it new that papers who've practiced it for decades have watched their sales and circulations plummet. After all, catering to readers who don't actually read is a rather bold proposition, bound to have shortfalls. Meanwhile, while dailies here in the Hinterland continue to dumb down, national papers like the New Times and Wall Street Journal continue to pick off their more learned constituency. This, it would seem, is not a plan bound for study at the Wharton school of business. But we just thought you might like to know how the sausage is made. -- Pete Kotz

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