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As part of my efforts to improve my English, I'm trying to paraphrase the following statement by the founder of Wikitribune and it turns out to be such a challenging job for a non-native English speaker because it complicatedly has "present and past" participle phrases in the same sentence:

This will be the first time that professional journalists and citizen journalists will work side by side as equals writing stories as they happen, editing them as they develop and at all times backed by a community checking and rechecking all facts.

Would you find these two paraphrases I came up with grammatically correct? Could there be any better or more versions?:

  • (A) "This will be the first time that professional journalists and citizen journalists will write stories as they happen, edit them as they develop and at all times be backed by a community checking and rechecking all facts as they work side by side as equals."

  • (B) "This will be the first time that professional journalists and citizen journalists will work side by side as equals as they write stories as they happen, edit them as they develop and ARE at all times backed by a community checking and rechecking all facts."

I would really appreciate any advice, desperately seeking answers.

  • It looks like "will ... be backed by" vs "journalists ... are ... backed by", but version B seems a little awkward to me. – Lawrence Jun 11 '17 at 11:31
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All three sentences, including the original, are lacking in parallelism.

For example, in (B), the verbs (they) write and (they) edit are in the active voice, but (they) are backed is in the passive voice.

This isn't a fatal flaw, and I believe your sentences are grammatically correct, but it makes them sound awkward, especially (B). There are several ways you can get around it. For example, you could rewrite (B) as:

This will be the first time that professional journalists and citizen journalists will work side by side as equals as they write stories as they happen and edit them as they develop, while at all times being backed by a community checking and rechecking all facts.

Why does (A) sound better than (B)? I think it's because in (A), (they) will write, (they will) edit), and (they will) be backed all have the auxiliary verb will in them.

  • I really thank you for your kind advice, Mr. Shor. I was a little surpised to be informed that the original statement by a native English speaker could have a flaw. Would you be kind enough to offer a paraphrase of the original? – Choe Guevara Jun 11 '17 at 11:51
  • Native English speakers produce awkward sentences all the time. Changing backed to being backed would help the original. – Peter Shor Jun 11 '17 at 11:52
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    @Choe Guevara Do you think native speakers score 100% in every English exam? Or that they suddenly achieve perfection on leaving their courses of study? // Peter's revision is certainly an improvement, but I don't see how the lengthy sentence can be satisfactorily made much easier to parse. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 11 '17 at 14:23
  • I appreciate your comment. I know what you mean. It was just that Jimmy Wales is such an influential figure in the media industry I guess I overestimated his English skills. – Choe Guevara Jun 11 '17 at 14:58
  • If you wanted to maintain complete parellelism shouldn't it end with "backed by a community that checks (not checking) and rechecks (not rechecking) all facts."? That way past and present participles aren't mixed, if that's such a a bad thing. – Zebrafish Dec 5 '18 at 16:13

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