Rick Poynor has responded in Print to his critics on the prominent design blog Speak Up. The heart of his short response is a list of eight qualities that all published writing should possess, e.g. "Exceptional knowledge of the subject" and "Originality of individual sensibility and approach." As interactive and informative as the blog form can be, Poynor argues, without these eight timeless qualities it can't have "value as writing and commentary."
It's a bit ironic, then, that Poynor's list doesn't quite hold up as a model of clear and efficient writing. Among the eight he includes "Range and depth of research," a phrase that requires a qualifier to serve the intended purpose (ranges can be narrow as well as broad). And look again at "Originality of individual sensibility and approach," which strikes me as redundant. A communal sensibility could hardly be original.
I offer these cavils not to dismiss Poynor but to demonstrate that even formal training and an attentive editor can't always prevent infelicities of language from slipping into publication. The writer is a wrestler with a greased opponent. Print journalists and bloggers share the struggle to pin words to meaning.
That said, I agree with Poynor that there's something disturbing about the way some Speak Up contributors flaunt their inability to write well as a sign of authenticity. Many bloggers claim to prize "emotional connection" above cogent expression, citing the approval of their online community (what Poynor calls "their self-created blog club") as proof that the rules and regs of writing are just an elitist stricture. Approval, however, isn't always preceded by comprehension. I can't be the only one who has experienced business meetings where the participants all knew that no one in the room even remotely knew what he or she was talking about, but nodded and smiled as though something deeply professional were transpiring. And, indeed, something was: business-as-usual.