The first sentence of a news story, or the lead, should not have more than 25 words.. A sentence in a newspaper should have average 15-20 words.. Newspaper language should be plain, clear, and simple. It must be easy to understand for ordinary readers..
Generations of great journalists and media teachers in the West and in India have given such guidelines to their students and young journalists. These veterans include Sir Harold Evans, Martin Cutts, and our own Jyoti Sanyal, Editor, The Statesman's Style Book.
Yet, Indian newspapers carry stories with leads replete with long-winded sentences, often with as many as 90 words.
So? How does it matter? Prof Dr Kiran Thakur's qualitative study demonstrated that lay readers find it difficult to quickly understand such stories. His research showed that journalists often use words that readers do not know.
Is there a way to improve the situation? Prof Thakur came out with a solution after experimenting for over seven years under a UGC-funded study. The study and the solution form the basis of this book, Newspaper English. He tested Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease and Flesch-Kincaid Level readability index as a tool to edit news. And look, how simple it is to edit news and features using the formulae. The book is a useful guide to students and teachers of print and online publications. Useful also to students and teachers of Management, Social Sciences, and English language.