What ails the American obit
From a LAT obit of Luna Leopold, hydrologist, by Elaine Woo:
“How does water move and when it moves, what happens? How does land shape water flow and how does water flow shape land? These are among the central issues that Luna solved,” said Char Miller, an environmental historian at Trinity University in San Antonio.
The problem here is that the obit writer, by the time she writes this, should consider herself enough of an expert to tell the reader exactly what Leopold's contributions were. The thing to do is interview the expert and then don't quote him. Quoting, to my mind, makes the statement less credible not more. It distracts and takes accountability away from the reporter, who should crave it.
Nothing against Elaine Woo, who I think is very good. I just hate the general tendency to avoid asserting anything as a fact. I consider this to be a form of bureaucratic obfuscation. American journalism is rife with it, and it is tedious and irritating.