Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Today in editing

Today's lesson in first-year macroeconomics. Fox's lede story, second graf, 8 p.m.:

The president, who speaks shortly after 9 p.m. ET, will hammer the theme of income inequality, arguing that the economic “recovery” largely has benefited those “at the top” while leaving many Americans struggling to break into the middle class.

And at 10 p.m.:

The president hammered the theme of income inequality during his State of the Union address, arguing that the economic recovery largely has benefited those “at the top” while leaving many Americans struggling to break into the middle class. 

Scare quotes are getting to be quite the thing in some sectors of the foamy-mouthed media. Drudge has even taken to using them for cabinet agencies. Apparently Fox still has some lingering concern about being caught with its fair-n-balanced down.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

In that case, why tell me?

If covering the lede with duct tape actually adds to the value of the story beneath, you're probably dealing with one of the Forbidden Ledes. Call for professional help at once.

And while we're at it: If the record was achieved "with the more than 2 inches that fell Saturday," how come the first named source says on Saturday that "we went over the top last night"?


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Redtop hed dialect shock merge horror

Is the austere beauty of the American tabloid hed becoming indistinguishable from the baroque splendor of the London redtops? That's the impression I get from the claim quotes here.

Owing in part to their libel laws, I expect the British would avoid some of the characterizations in text:

Deranged suspect Sean Farrell, 24, called his grandmother after killing his mom — a nurse who helped care for sick children — to confess, court papers show.

“Sean told me he was scared and confused,” stunned granny Letitia Dunn told cops, according to documents.

... but the real interest here is the hed -- particularly the quotes and the lack of the comma. Input from both sides of the ocean is welcome: are we losing the core elements that make our tabs different?

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Today among the weasels

On the bright side, the New York Post doesn't just fear scary brown people when they're, you know, Muslims or Arabs. It fears all the other Asians too!

Should you be wondering, "Viv" isn't somebody named Vivian. It's somebody whose family name is Mark-Viverito. Good thing you already know that if you read the Post.

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Friday, January 24, 2014

When in doubt, make stuff up

Hey, kids! How does the Kenyan Muslim commie's approval rating in this month's Fox News poll compare with last month's?
Read more »

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Don't do this either

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Khan of worms

How's that new stylebook entry coming along, Nation's Newspaper of Record?

Khan, Kahn: No, just do it the other way. See Kahn, Khan.

The Download feature last Sunday misspelled the surname of a Sufi singer. His name is Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, not Kahn.

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Forbidden stuff

"Battle of the bulge" is particularly associated with the beginning of the year, but it's on the Permanently Forbidden list. Shun it.

And if you're tempted to proclaim "Water, water everywhere," then ask whether there will be enough drops to drink (as "The Takeaway" just did on my public radio station)? Don't do that either.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Four legs good! Two legs ... pretty good too!

Rough day putting the front page together over at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network, wasn't it? Christie good! Christie bad! Christie at least not as bad as the black guy! BENGHAZI!!! I mean, where do you go for a lede?

It must have been a relief to just settle in with a nice bit of fabricated race-baiting like the one at right,  occupying the No. 3 spot* on the foxnews.com home page Friday evening. Those Chicago thugs are going after your white kids again, and "educators" are "outraged"!
Read more »

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Wednesday, January 08, 2014

That seems to be the least of your problems

Today in "Ask the Editor":

Q. Which is the correct use of the pronoun WHO and WHOM? I understand that who is used for subjects and who for objects of a sentence. But for this case, I am confused since I am writing in the passive voice. Is it Who or Whom that goes after the name Rachel Rosen? "I was referred to you through a mutual friend, Elizabeth Lewis, WHO or WHOM I met through Couchsurfing." Thanks so much.

It's exceptionally polite of David and the gang to answer "whom," rather than, say, "Why would the answer be any different if you'd written in the active voice?" Or, even more to the point: "Where did Rachel go?"

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Tuesday, January 07, 2014

We're No. 4! And ... No. 19!

Today in the War on Editing: UPI simplifies the guessing game about what that pesky "USC" means:

... Florida State was No. 12 in the pre-season poll and took over the No. 1 spot Dec. 1, two days after Auburn stunned season-long No. 1 Alabama with a return of a missed field goal.

Auburn (12-2), which didn't receive poll votes until early October and wasn't ranked until Oct. 20, is second. Michigan State (13-1) took the No. 3 spot with South Carolina (11-2) finishing fourth and Missouri (12-2) coming in fifth.

Good so far?*

... UCLA (10-3) comes in at 16th and Oklahoma State (10-3) ends up 17th with Texas A&M (9-4) at No. 18. South Carolina (1-4), unranked in the final regular-season poll, takes the 19th spot and Arizona State (10-4) is 20th.

Sadly, no. N0. 19 would be the USC in that other time zone.

Thanks to the alert cousins in the Philadelphia bureau, who also provided the hed.

* M-I-Z!

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Elongated yellow replica

No. No, he can't. Nor is "replica" an improvement on "the hairy creature" or "legendary furry creatures."

But next time you have a one-on-one with the head of the Ohio Bigfoot Conference:

They are especially adept at hiding and seem to have their own language, DeWerth said.

... be sure you ask how many words they have for "snow," OK?

(Thanks to the Central Ohio Bureau.)

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Monday, January 06, 2014

The black guy's playing golf some more

This is why it's called an "echo chamber":

As much of the nation huddles in a dangerous deep freeze, vacationing President Obama on Saturday wrapped up his two-week Christmas vacation by playing his 160th round of golf in his sunny birth state, Hawaii. The temperature: 79 degrees.
His latest round means that Obama has played golf an average of once every 11 days in office.You can go look up the comments yourself.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

This week in heds: British invasion

British-style heds are pretty common in the New York Post, which occasionally improves itself by importing talent from the far-distant Murdoch properties, and to a lesser extent at foxnews.com, because Fox! But when we get two distinctively British heds on the front of the News, we should think about hanging a lantern in the steeple of the Old Boston Herald or something.

At the top of the Friday page above, note the prepositional crossover in "CBS' Miller in NYPD stunner." American hed practice calls for a verb here: "NYPD terror chief choice baffles bigs" or "Intel world stunned at TV dude terror pick." The British redtops just let the preposition join the relevant NPs: "Yob brothers in hoods ban" or "Lad on jogger stabbing rap."

At the bottom is a classic noun pile, "Class lab fire horror," which may be this story but you never know, because verbs. As the inside hed and the link suggest, American practice instinctively goes for a passive verb -- "students injured" seems to get the job done -- as long as nobody is standing next to the slot and yelling about the evils of the passive voice.

How about "TV GUY IS NEW TERROR CHIEF"? You can see that construction on both sides of the ocean, and downstyle is always easier to follow than ALL CAPS, but this one's strictly American, because indefinite. The British style would be something like "TV Chris* is new Dr Who," where "TV Chris" is "that guy Chris you've seen on TV," whereas "TV Guy" is "some guy you might know from TV."**

Anyway, observations are welcome: Shock horror outrage, are our tabloid dialects merging?

* See also "TV Henry is broke," "TV Kiefer injured in bar fight," "TV Carol sees spot where skydive daughter died," et al.
** For practice, translate: "TV Kate In Nude Sir Pic Row"

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The black guy's playing golf again

You can read the whole story, or you can just kind of get the whole idea from the top cutline:

R&R: President Obama gives rare access to a media pool Thursday as he plays his seventh round of golf during his Hawaiian vacation. The first family also has taken two hikes, two beach trips and one snorkeling adventure, but has not attended church, even for Christmas.

Oh, all right. Enjoy some reader comments too!
Read more »

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Actually, yes

You can see why this is a big deal for the cousins over at the Daily Caller:

After a year of seeing President Obama’s approval ratings plummet, the president’s pollster is offering a strikingly candid and pessimistic New Year’s resolution.

Reporters should go the next “year without reporting any public polling data,” Joel Benenson, president and CEO of Benenson Strategy Group, said.

Well, sort of. He was responding to a request for resolutions from Politico's Playboook, and that's a fragment of his suggestion "for Playbookers." So although it's not in any meaningful sense a resolution "for reporters," more than a few reporters might want to consider paying attention to it -- for example, Alex Pappas, or any other political authority who uses "Real Clear Politics" and "average" in the same sentence. In short, if you don't understand how surveys are done, or how public opinion works, it might be a really good idea to take a year off and -- you know, shut up.

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