Why do some journalists feel compelled to stuff their entire thesis into a single sentence?
The time to advocate against zoning laws in Houston that left the city more prone to flooding during Hurricane Harvey is now. – The Guardian
I don’t know about you, but by the time I reached the end of the sentence, I had forgotten what the subject of ‘is’ was (it was ‘The time’. The time is now). Why can’t the authors be a little bit nicer to me and my fading short-term memory? After all, they do want me to understand their thesis.
Is this what they were trying to say?
Zoning laws in Houston left the city more prone to flooding during Hurricane Harvey. It is time to advocate against them.
Isn’t that better? Freed of the onerous single-sentence requirement, the authors might even have penned this:
It’s time we advocate against the existing meager zoning laws in Houston. They left the city open to intense flooding from Hurricane Harvey.
Lax zoning laws in Houston left the city open to intense flooding from Hurricane Harvey. Down with those laws. They gotta go.
OK, maybe not that one, not for an impartial journalist. But wait, the original quote comes from an opinion piece. Coming down on one side of an issue: that is expected. And very often, the shortest sentence is the most effective.