Sarah Jessica Parker

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

When the Obama campaign emailed supporters to join a $40,000-a-ticket dinner in June at the New York home of actress Sarah Jessica Parker, journalists at ProPublica noticed something odd. They uncovered seven versions of the email solicitation for the fundraiser, some mentioning a second fundraiser that night, a concert by Mariah Carey, others that Ms. Parker is a mother, and still others that Vogue editor Anna Wintour would be at the dinner. Who got which email depended on "big data" — information about each fundraising prospect and how different people react to different messages. 

"As teenagers' scores on standardized reading tests have declined or stagnated, some argue that the hours spent prowling the Internet are the enemy of reading-diminishing literacy, wrecking attention spans and destroying a precious common culture that exists only through the reading of books," writes Motoko Rich in The New York Times. "But others say the Internet has created a new kind of reading, one that schools and society should not discount."

I believe this so-called "new kind of reading" is the result of the old kind of writing, which has become really bad.

I'm talking about the writing in mainstream media-newspapers, magazines and books-whose managements are so financially strapped that they can't afford decent editors. The result: Authors left to themselves are sloppy, self-indulgent and frequently boring as dirt.

This is also true of writing on the Internet and BlackBerrys/other mobile devices.

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