Tyro has talent to burn…and it should be

The Glass House sincerely hopes pretty Nine News Sydney reporter – is that a tautology? – Hayley Francis will accept the following criticisms graciously.

Last night, the tyro attacked with commendable enthusiasm her story about two young men, aged 19 and 21, arrested after a Sydney repair shop’s owners were robbed at knifepoint of $20,000 in cash and valuable stock on Tuesday night.

Ms Francis first came unstuck during a footpath interview of the nineteen-year-old’s family after the prosecution had made certain claims at his bail hearing: “…. the family of the youngest today outside court refuting those claims…”

Ouch! No, make that a double ouch!

Silly old hack journos nostalgic for the lost art of using words properly would right now be thinking of one of the basic rules drummed into them as cadets: younger for two; youngest for three or more.

Then there’s “refute”. Old-timers in this crazy craft would remember when “refute” meant to “prove wrong by argument or evidence”. To be fair to Hayley – and The Glass House is always fair – “refute” has been butchered by her likes for so long that nowadays she’s probably not all that wrong and refute takes the place of denial, which is what the family was in fact doing and what TGH still thinks Hayles should have used, the stodgy old sentimentalists that we are.

Still, there’s an almost onomatopoeic feel to refute, is there not? REFUUUUTTTEEE! Punched out like that, it calls for a spit and a thorough mouth washout.

But, wait, there’s more as Hayley provides more pro-bono legal advice that suggests the family should not be wasting their money on lawyers and that perhaps the bail hearing was a dreadful waste of public money.

Explaining that the prosecution had stated that police had “phone taps that showed Tuesday’s armed robbery was a well-thought-out operation”, she adds: “… the defence for the youngest (oh dear!) quashing [those allegations]….”

To quash as in legalise: the court quashed the conviction. Meaning, like, to like cancel, reverse, rescind, like, repeal, revoke retract, countermand, etc, etc, like.

Magistrate Francis: “Defendant, all charges are dismissed and you are free to go. Court is adjourned.”

But after much preferring “quashed” to “rejected” or something just as worthy, Hayley wasn’t finished just yet. She just had to break one of the basic rules one last time: “The eldest [Bzzzzzzttt] of the pair did not apply for bail.”

The Glass House has some simple advice for young Hayley: after your next field report is finalised in the production suite, instead of rushing back to your desk to place the item in your electronic portfolio for your next pay upgrade request, why not read some basic books of the craft of journalism?

Just imagine one day still being just as pretty as any of the other Nine reporters (no! Not you, Mike Dalton) but actually being very professional at your job as well.

One of the old hacks behind TGH might still have Harold Evans’s excellent five-book series covering this wonderful craft that he could lend you. At least the ones on basic writing skills.

Or otherwise ask your news editor for Nine News’s style book.

(insert canned laughter here that slowly fades to black along with this column)