Monday, December 05, 2016

Two editors walk into a bar

So if two copy editors walk into a restaurant and see some dude waving a gun and proclaiming that he's there to investigate a made-up story about the Clinton campaign, they should:

a) Duck
b) Report that the dude is investigating the fake news
c) Try the calamari! Thanks, I'll be here all week.

In the good old days, we could have had (d), avoid the assumption that self-proclaimed investigators hewing to a paranoid style of political discourse are actually doing the things they claim to be doing, particularly when it's going at the top of the front page. The naked guy waving a chainsaw to keep the invisible ammonia beings of Planet Mxyzptlk at bay doesn't get a hed proclaiming MAN FENDING OFF SPACE CREATURES HAS N.C. LINKS.

One would like to think this doesn't need explaining, but perhaps we need to start at the beginning with some stuff. And don't forget your server, folks.

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Saturday, December 03, 2016

Second front

If you feared you would miss the War on Fox, the War on Birds or (of course) the War on Christmas, be of good cheer:
The right-wing news site Breitbart has declared “#WAR” on Kellogg’s, calling for a boycott of the cereal company’s products after they decided to cease advertising on the site.

... In response to Kellogg’s statement, Breitbart published a furious attack on the cereal company on Wednesday saying that the move represents “an escalation in the war by leftist companies ... against conservative customers”. Editor-in-chief Alexander Marlow called for a boycott of the company’s products, saying: “For Kellogg’s, an American brand, to blacklist Breitbart News in order to placate left-wing totalitarians is a disgraceful act of cowardice.”

Why does Breitbart hate American exports? Why does Breitbart hate freedom? WHY DOES BREITBART HATE AMERICA????

Thursday, December 01, 2016

How about two cops in a rowboat?

That sounds like another dramatic success for the new administration there, Fair 'n' Balanced Network! Let's hope the inside hed is as strong as the top story on the homepage:

Well, that's a relief. Let's have a big-picture lede to set the stage before we start counting, and don't forget to mention those colleges and their safe spaces!

Since President-elect Donald Trump's victory, people have taken to social media with concerns and fears about the incoming administration. Riots, protests and the creation of safe spaces on college campuses have rose* in the wake of an election that has left the country deeply divided.

But Ali Olaikhan, a Muslim-American, argues Trump's comments were taken out of context.

So we're at one -- at least, one who (according to Fox) thinks some unspecified comments were taken out of context.

“I'm a Muslim, and I know what he says about Muslims,” said Olaikhan. “I understand what he means. He's talking about the terrorists or the extremists, of course."

Note to reporters: That's telepathy, not "context." If you want a comment taken out of context, try "you didn't build that," in which the context actually does make the scope of "that" clear:

Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business — that- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.

But back to the latest demonstration of affection for the Dear Leader!

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016


The baby names are back! It kind of pains me to acknowledge that I've been writing about the damn baby names since before the dissertation was finished, but at this point, it'd be ungrateful to deny the value of deranged racist paranoia to the overall scholarly project. And this time, Drudge seems to be committing a couple of basic violations of the way news works. 

First, for you junior-league players, is the axiom that heds are drawn from the lede: If the reporter made something a priority, the hed writer either follows in train or -- should the reporter have somehow* missed the point -- fixes the lede so it reflects the real news. Thus, if you link to the Mirror, which kicks off with Posh and Becks:
Celebrities continue to be a source of inspiration for new parents choosing names for their children.

Coleen and Wayne Rooney's name choices have been extremely popular this year, with twice as many babies called Kit and Klay compared to last year.

But Olivia is officially the most popular name for girls and Oliver the most popular for boys.

... your job is to capture at least some of the Roonsian magic.

More importantly, though, your hed needs to reflect the news itself.  In that Muhammad has been sneaking up on Jack (or Oliver) for years on end, your hed really ought to tell the audience how today is different from yesterday. "Muhammad in second" might have been a big deal when he was closing in, but -- unless the tables are fabricated -- the real story here seems to be that Muhammad has been knocked out of the top spot.

You'd think that might be cause for dancing in the street for Drudge and his ilk. Perhaps he's still trying to figure out how to give credit to his tangerine master.

* Shock horror outrage

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Order word matters

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Space is limited, and it doesn't always lie in the configuration we wanted, and there's not an "error" here -- but if I had to call this one, I'd say Castro should be filed under Cuban revolutionary, not revolutionary Cuban.

And for those moments when "Due to an editing error ..." isn't enough:

An article on Monday about a rally to protest anti-Semitic, pro-Trump graffiti found in a Brooklyn Heights playground misidentified one of the songs protesters sang. It was “This Land Is Your Land,” not “America the Beautiful.”

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Don't let it fall on me

Q: Is it possible that the drooler media are irredeemably racist?
A: Why, did someone suggest that the drooler media were redeemable?
 (Top, 2016; bottom, 2015. Guess the occasion!)

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Today in snowflakery

And what special snowflake's hurt feelings brought about Saturday morning's top story at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network?

President-elect Donald Trump on Saturday said the cast of the hit Broadway show “Hamilton” was “rude” to White House teammate Mike Pence and that he deserves an apology for being “harassed.”

“Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing. This should not happen!” Trump tweeted.

The ticket that campaigned against the scourge of political correctness needs to clutch its teddy bear a little tighter. Gov. Pence was not "harassed." He was addressed as "sir," not "you chinky-ass bitch," and he was not told to return to the land his grandfather immigrated from.* But we do have a better idea about what the president-elect meant when he promised to "open up those libel laws": sedition and seditious libel!

Seditious libel is the kind we thought we got rid of 200 years ago,** in which hurting the feelings of the authorities is bad in and of itself: "The intentional publication, without lawful excuse or justification, of written blame of any public man, or of the law, or of any institution established by law." Rather than being a defense, truth is an aggravating factor. Nelson (1959), from which the preceding definition is taken, raises a question that's particularly relevant to Fox: "Would it have been wise, under these concepts, to suggest that Governor William Cosby*** spent too much time on the golf course?"
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