And nowadays — this is where things get interesting — people who write in CSWE actually mark themselves as untrustworthy by doing so. Because the new usage, call it Modern Written English, is everything CSWE is not: first-person, colloqiual, breezy, open, and personal. That’s what readers understand and trust. But if you write like a high-school essay, or the Wall Street Journal? That is now a big red flag. Your readers don’t know you … but they do know that you have deliberately hidden who you are, by donning that mask called CSWE. And on some level they do not like it.
This doesn’t mean that journalists need to adopt the tone of a Reddit poster – but it does mean we need to start challenging some of our assumptions about what constitutes a professional writing style.