Are We As A Nation Afraid To Blog: American’s Writing Skills At Issue?

Why are American businesses and business people afraid to blog? What is the biggest “perceived” obstacle to entry? Training is a burgeoning area that corporations are addressing by spending record amounts of time, capital, and monies.

The missing factor is a recognized effort on the part of American businesses and business people to improve their writing and grammar skills.

According to a 1994 National Institiute for Literacy study “The Educational Quality of the Workforce National Employer Survey” stated:

“only 25.1%” of training was focused on “literacy/numeracy” training aka English and Math skills

The Big Picture

In 2004 the National Commission on Writing produced a fantastic report “Writing: A Ticket to Work or a Ticket Out, A Survey of Business Leaders” surveying 120 human resource directors who are participants of Business Roundtable. The following are some interesting findings:

1. People who cannot write and communicate clearly will not be hired, and if already working, are unlikely to last long enough to be considered for promotion

Analysis: Writing skills are both a marker of high wage, high skill professional work

2. Two-thirds of salaried employees in large American companies have some writing responsibility

Analysis: Realtors and entrepreneurs often fail to recognize the role that writing plays in their success or failures

3. 80% or more of services, finance, insurance, and real estate companies evaluate writing skills during the hiring process

4. 40% of firms surveyed offer or require writing skills training for employees with deficiencies

5. The Commission estimates that “remedying deficiencies in writing costs American corporations as much as $3.1 billion annually

The perceived challenges to entry into blogging may be more than just perception. The problems with literacy and writing skills may actually be the core root of why this incredible marketing tool remains grossly under utilized, systematically ignored, and ultimately unappreciated by those who would benefit the most.

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5 thoughts on “Are We As A Nation Afraid To Blog: American’s Writing Skills At Issue?

  1. Nice piece of research. I think the results are particularly interesting when one considers how employers most likely define “acceptable writing skills.” We’re not talking about clear, concise writing here, but rather the skills one might reasonably expect a high school senior or college freshman to possess. On the other hand, experience has taught me to believe that many–maybe most–colleges and universities simply aren’t willing to broaden their requirements for graduation to include much more than the Freshman English 101 (and at least in my day, those PhD-candidate instructors, couldn’t write either or they certainly would have given me better grades on my essays).

    Those students studying engineering and the sciences (including computer science), learn to write the way their teachers write. Given that, it’s a wonder any engineer or scientist or lawyer can write a simple sentence in the active voice. That’s a broad generalization, of course, and I do know folk of that ilk who can write and write well, but I know, and have worked, with many more who cannot.

    With absolutely no data to back me up, I’m convinced that people are afraid to improve their writing skills because of the vocabulary our Victorian forefathers invented to describe it.

    That’s enough. I’ll get off my soap box now. But your post really hit my hot button. Thank you for taking time to share it.

    Best. . .Roger Ball

  2. Roger,

    A well thought out and even better written comment! Thank you I enjoyed reading your ideas and I wish to give you feedback.

    Your point about “acceptable writing skills” is so on the money. I feel that each blog article-post must consist of a short, concise point or posit. I found a mountain of evidence that supports your ideas that colleges are not requiring enough writing and English skill courses. Unfortunately due to the short attention span of most blog readers, I could not add even more evidence that supports your thoughts.

    It absolutely boggles the mind that writing skills, not just rudimentary grammar and rules training, real construction of a story with support, tone, and an outline is not emphasized.

    The idea that people are “afraid to improve their writing skills because of the vocabulary our Victorian forefathers invented” is a fascinating posit.

    Could our society be faced with an outdated language which is actually hampering future generations from writing skills competency? What a thought!

    How odd is our society where people constantly want to be heard yet their choice of expression always seems to remain the spoken word?

    I would love to hear more about this topic from you–please consider writing again!

    dean

  3. Oh Space Goddess,

    I supplied links to some of the research I found on Google regarding writing skills.

    My posit is simple. Blogging is the most powerful form of “citizen journalism” and marketing available today. Yet this power and the first adopter advantage go unnoticed by the majority of businesses and business people in America.

    The fact remains that there are millions of blogs in the blogosphere yet many are abandoned after a short run. Even more evident is the lack of knowledge about this marketing tool in mainstream American corporate culture.

    Even though entrepreneurs tend to be on the cutting edge even this group is slow to adopt.

    If you do a Google search you will find very few doctors, dentists, service people, wineries, insurance agents, law firms and other corporate or small businesses utilizing blogging.

    Why? As a blog consultant the very first issue most of the Realtors I have worked with mention when asked “Why have you waited to begin a blog?” “I don’t write well.”

    Others mention time, research, and finding content as their reasons for not authoring a blog.

    The reality that none of them understand until they actually try is the fact that the writing part is the easiest part of blogging.

    The technology curve is the monster problem as is the fact that the decision “tree” when blogging is brutal. Any wrong decision at the beginning, ie which host or platform to utilize, can cost a blogger for their entire writing career.

    dean

  4. Dean —

    Thank you for your kind comment, I appreciate it.

    With respect to the ridiculous language that describes our language, consider the word “pronominal.” What in the world does that have to do with possessing the inherent characteristic “possessiveness” (as in mine, yours, its, ours, etc)?

    In fact, the definition of pronominal in Webster’s ignores what I consider the most important part of the word’s definition.

    Quoting Webster’s, a pronominal is a word “pertaining to, derived from, functioning as, or resembling a pronoun: My in my book is a pronominal adjective.”

    Actually a pronominal is a word that cannot be made possessive because it comes that way, ready made. It took me years to stumble onto pronominals (which I renamed “ready-made possessives.” But once I understood, I no longer had any trouble remembering the difference between “its” (a ready-made possessive) and “it’s” (the contraction).

    Obviously, I can’t say whether I would have understood “ready-made possessives” as a high school senior, but I think I might have and understanding that would have saved me years of embarrassment when I confused the two words (as most folks do on occasion). Made me wonder how many other easy-to-understand usage rules are out there hiding behind names I can’t understand. So now I’m searching a bit as I get on with making a living. And, I suppose, I’m regretting having mentally dropped out of English every time the syllabus shifted to grammar as I knew, even then, that I would become a journalist.

    Written language changes, but not as quickly as the spoken language. Unfortunately, the first advice most writer receive, and therefore, give when asked, is to “write as you speak.”

    Wrong.

    We need to write as we wish we spoke, not as we do. Everyone needs an editor, but when you don’t have one handy, you’ll have to do it yourself. That means every one of us needs to learn how to edit our own copy. Writing is the only communications process that lets us “take our words back.” Think about it. Only the written word lets us, for example, withdraw an insult before it is read, add a fact we forgot, or even think about what we’re saying before it’s said.

    Most of us, I think, don’t like to hear–maybe even, don’t hear–how we really speak. A journalist who insist on quoting sources verbatim usually loses those sources soon after the writing is published. None of us speak grammatically correct English, and most of the modifiers we use are adverbs. Few people want to read language that is fuddled, crammed full of adverbs and verbal pauses and that wanders this way and that while the speaker considers what he or she wants to say next. Rather, we want to read simple, clear and understandable prose that gets right to the point. Editing gives us the opportunity to make sure our writing does that.

    Cripe, I’m running off at the keyboard again. Sorry about that.

    Best. . .Roger

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