Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Daleks on helium

Now that the pesky GDP report has fallen to 24th (and last) place on the Fair 'n' Balanced hit parade, maybe we should look at the lead story from a little earlier in the day:

House Republicans have dug up emails from Lois Lerner in which the former IRS official refers to some in the Republican Party as “---holes” and "crazies" – an exchange they say shows her “animus” toward conservatives.

As with much of Fox's reporting on the party's pet scandals, the presentation here is only partly made up. The emails by themselves don't "reveal disdain for Republicans"; that's the claim of the particular Republican who released them (Dave Camp of Michigan, if you're scoring along at home), but what's a little attribution between friends? And who exactly she called "- - -holes" (Fox Nation opted for "a - - holes"; after a phone call to confirm, the AP boldly went with "assholes") kind of depends on how hard you squint and what you're willing to overlook:

In the email exchange, Lerner appears to be chatting with another unidentified individual about a vacation in Great Britain. She describes how she overheard “some ladies” talking about how America is “going down the tubes.”

The person she tells this to responds that “you should hear the whacko wing of the GOP. The US is through; too many foreigners sucking the teat; time to hunker down, buy ammo and food, and prepare for the end. The right wing radio shows are scary to listen to.”

Lerner responds: “Great. Maybe we are through if there are that many ---holes.”

Read more »

Labels: ,

Today in framing

If a 3 percent change in quarterly GDP is a big deal at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network, just imagine what 4 percent might look like:

U.S. economic growth accelerated more than expected in the second quarter and the decline in output in the prior period was less steep than previously reported, bolstering views for a stronger performance in the last six months of the year.

Gross domestic product expanded at a 4.0 percent annual rate as activity picked up broadly after shrinking at a revised 2.1 percent pace in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday.

So given the play to the first-quarter revisions released last month, we should expect something like ... oh. (Right, that's the 12th bullet down there amid the "Latest News.")

Read more »

Labels: , ,

Freddie Starr Ate My Gecko

Good news for the gecko sex set, or Putin rearing his head again?

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Me or your lying eyes?

Well, who are you going to believe there, Washington Times -- John Boehner, or your lying eyes?

Talk of impeachment was cooked up by a White House desperate for something to rally Democrats ahead of November’s elections, House Speaker John A. Boehner said Tuesday, flatly ruling out any action on the controversial suggestion.

“We have no plans to impeach the president. We have no future plans,” Mr. Beohner* said. “Listen, it’s all a scam started by Democrats at the White House.”

Can those pesky libruls talk their way out of this one?

Democrats have acknowledged impeachment talk has been good for their fundraising, but also say there’s some fire behind all the smoke. On Tuesday, congressional Democrats circulated a list of GOP candidates and sitting lawmakers who have said they want to see President Obama be impeached.

Must have been a challenge to get that one together.

* Oh, come on. That's not even copy editing. That's spellchecking.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Why spoil it by reading the story?

Some headlines are so good that you almost hate to read on, but all right:
Read more »

Labels: , ,

Grumpy Cat remembers the Maine

Q: What do you do when a potentially GREAT story from the intarwebs has, you know, a few too many hedges?
A: Make up some more stuff!

Which appears to be how we got from this lede, posted online Friday by the Torygraph:

A young woman in eastern Ukraine has provoked outrage by allegedly posting a picture of herself on Instagram using a mascara wand looted from the crash site of Flight MH17.

... to the front of today's Post:

She didn’t bat an eye when she painted her lashes with a dead woman’s mascara.
Read more »

Labels: ,

Thursday, July 24, 2014

He can't do that to our pledges

Only we can stir random paranoia among our audience do that to our pledges!

The News has a point here, after a fashion. Next time it could be a BOMB, especially if it's a bomb about the size and weight of a few king-size sheets being carried by -- what's that, New York's Hometown Newspaper? -- "a skateboard-toting youth and four pals." You can't be too careful about these things.

Unless you're, you know, some rube from Chicago who doesn't understand what it's like to live in the most important city in the world. How did it sound at the Daily News back on, say, March 26?

New Yorkers got a chilling wake up call Tuesday about just how badly terrorists want to strike the city.

And how badly is that?
Read more »

Labels: ,

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Today in press freedom

If you can write all you want to about giant inflatable toads in public places, thank a journalist!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Fill in the clean

Hey, kids! Here's a comment from one of your fellow readers. Do you want to rush right over to his blog, owing to his awesome rock sensibilities, or can you point to, oh, four or five problems (mostly lexical, some syntactic) that make you think otherwise?

However that's not to say I do not try, on occasion, to seek out something comparatively new that doesn't make me feel like gagging up my Ensure. I definitely do not trust what anyone says a few new band or a brand new sound or a brand new concept, particularly if that individual is young enough and inexperienced sufficient to suppose that “a brand new idea” is 4 totally different chords in a single tune.

I am not the type to rummage through iTunes or go out to a membership to listen to one other variation on three guitar players and a ham-fisted drummer bellowing one thing about how disaffected they're with ____________ (fill in the clean).

With apologies to the poor writer whose piece was cannibalized by our spammer -- thanks, mysterious porn-blog-in-China owner! I can complain ad nauseam about the evils of patchwriting and get nothing but vacant stares, but you've shown why it makes the practitioner look not only dishonest but sublimely dumb.

Labels: ,

That pesky grammar

We don't tend to put clauses like this on spot-the-error tests, because it's not "wrong." Its problem -- like many of the genuine grammar problems you run across in an honest day's editing -- is that it's correct about more than one thing: what Obama might have done (demand something) and what his demands might have done (prompt something).

English is pesky like that. In return for not having to work so hard at case endings and conjugations, we're stuck with a lot of things like "demand" and "prompt"  -- and "probe," while we're at it -- that are often pretty opaque about what they're trying to do in a sentence. This is an easy hed to parse, as long as you already know what the story beneath it says. I'm not sure that's a good long-term strategy.

Would I actually kick the hed back to the rim just because it's right about too many things? Yeah, probably.* To borrow an idea from James Carey, we're making a mistake if we confuse the newspaper with a 15-week, three-credit course in post-Soviet politics. The audience isn't -- and has no reason to be -- approaching today's fractional twists and developments that way. But a more practical approach might be: If you think the pace of the probe demanded by the head of the US executive branch into an event of this nature is the day's top story, ur doin it wrong.

* Bear in mind I'm sitting here enjoying the Ed Love show, a pint of ESB and the company of Language Czarina; I'm not closing in on the first-edition Sunday deadline. If you are -- cheers.

Labels: ,

Friday, July 18, 2014

Today in distractions

Never let it be said that nobody at Fox ever (ahem) reads the comments. Here's the original lede:

A team spearheaded by the deep-sea explorer who found the Titanic has been searching a little-known ship graveyard located in the Gulf of Mexico that includes the only known Nazi U-boat to have sunk during WWII and a few of its targets, reported.

And the one available now (which seems to have disappeared from the front page):

A team spearheaded by the deep-sea explorer who found the Titanic has been searching a little-known ship graveyard located in the Gulf of Mexico that includes the only known Nazi U-boat to have sunk in the Gulf of Mexico during WWII and a few of its targets, reported.

Which isn't entirely true. What the local Fox affiliate reported was:

Read more »

Labels: , ,

No, but thanks for asking

Kind of a shame when the highlight of your lead story (chronological note: from Thursday morning) is a typo:
A week after President Obama's re-election in November 2012, Petraeus abruptly resigned as CIA Director, citing his extra-martial affair with Broadwell.

More broadly, though, this is about how much "news" you have to have to make a BENGHAZI!!!!! story into a lead:

The ongoing investigation of former CIA director David Petraeus is “perplexing and suspicious,” according to a leading Republican on the House Government Oversight Committee.

The reason we tend to think of Fox as a party organization rather than a news organization isn't just its preference for the party line on what news should look like. It's the diocesan newsletter function as well: what the princes and princelets of the church say is news because, well, fellow church members is who you're writing for.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What you mean 'we'?

Some arguments speak for themselves, and some arguments really, really speak for themselves. Pat Buchanan's explanation of why that damn diversity is destroying the nation, for example:

We were not a nation of immigrants in 1789.
Well, that's a relief.
They came later. 
Because they were busy stealing Detroit from the French? Something like that.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dear Moses

You can see the cause for alarm here (or maybe not, if you left your Fox-colored glasses at home):

It was called the wave of the future – the recently tapped U.S. ambassador to Switzerland was sworn in last month with her hand not on a paper Bible but on top of a Kindle.

Techies called it revolutionary and applauded Suzi Levine for making history. But she wasn’t the only one who went high-tech when she took the oath of office. A county executive from Long Island, N.Y., used the Bible app on an iPad to be sworn in last year and a few months ago a group of firefighters from New Jersey huddled around a Kindle Bible when they took their oath.

One ambassador, one county executive and "a group of firefighters" -- sounds like a trend to me. But that's not the point, is it?

But the movement has drawn concern from some in the religious community who are reluctant to accept officials choosing tablets over the printed Bible.
Read more »

Labels: ,

Friday, July 11, 2014

Emergency hed ban: Prodigal

Comes now a request from Raleigh for a preliminary injunction against any and all uses of "Prodigal Son" in display type about LeBron James's choice of employers for next season.

So ordered. No "Prodigal Son" in heds, decks, or cutlines. Neither shalt thou write fatted calf -- nor talent (or, should it be "talents?") -- in thy body copy. And if the petitioner doesn't mind, let's throw in a ban on "Decision 2.0" and "LeBron 2.0" while we're at it.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Is a fly in my soup

Aside from the entertaining stuff that happens by accident, journalism has a habit of messing with language deliberately. Much of it doesn't last. We still have some relics of the save-every-space era (AP's preference for not doubling consonants in forms like "canceled," say, or the pathological fear of the Oxford comma), but Col. McCormick's simpliphied orthografy is a thing of history.*

And yet it moves. If you keep up with Drudge,** you might have noticed a couple of trends that represent Drudge's own idiosyncratic grammar. There's pronoun-dropping:

... and an apparent belief that you can dump the subject and verb of any subordinated clause:

Read more »

Labels: , , ,

Feral style

What happens when a stylebook is raised without human contact? Here's the owner of the Blue Note, telling Collegetown's afternoon daily why he's selling:

“Six years ago, I seriously considered some of the offers,” including one from Gerding and Leslie, “but I just wasn’t ready. I haven’t always wanted to admit it, but after my” heart-valve “surgery” in 2012, “there was a serious change in how I looked at everything. So, honestly, the timing is great.”

Doesn't your head just bob up and down as the quote stops and starts and stops and starts again? That's because somebody followed the rule -- no parentheses to clarify a quote, ever! -- without considering its impact on people who are trying to read the thing.

It's easy to overdo the parenthetical clarification thing, but it's usually just as easy to write around the problem. You could, say, break the quote:

"I haven’t always wanted to admit it, but after my surgery" -- King had heart valve* surgery in 2012 -- "there was a serious change in how I looked at everything. So, honestly, the timing is great.”

Or, if you want to keep the comma after the adverb phrase, you can put the clarifying sentence after the quote:

"I haven’t always wanted to admit it, but after my surgery, there was a serious change in how I looked at everything. So, honestly, the timing is great.” King had heart valve surgery in 2012.

OK, what if you have to add something because style demands clarity? Well, it probably doesn't need as much help as you think. If your sporting readers can handle a lede like:

It isn’t the crackling, late-moving fastball that will earn Max Scherzer gobs of money this winter. It’s his brain.

... without being reminded that Scherzer is a pitcher, and he plays for the Tigers, who play baseball, your general audience probably doesn't need a clarification on the order of "(State) Sen. (Roscoe P.) Coltrane (R-Greenville) needs to talk directly to the people." If you don't see a place within a few sentences to log in the details, ur doin it wrong anyway.

* No, you don't need to hyphenate this compound.


Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Root, root, root for ... no, don't

The "that's what" contagion seems to be spreading downtown:

Batter up!

That’s the phrase that will likely ring out at Comerica Park on Friday as hundreds of youngsters from throughout metro Detroit gather at the Tigers’ home field for the 13th annual Willie Horton’s Batting for Kids baseball challenge.

To take the taste away, here's some "Roly Poly Mickey Lolich."

Labels: ,

At Soviet copydesk, headline writes you!

Quick, see if there's still a space on the next unheated cattle train to Siberia. Somebody seems to have forgotten who's weak and who isn't:

It is said that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been playing chess while President Obama has been playing checkers, or even marbles. While it is true that Mr. Putin is playing a game of chess on the stage of history, the United States is not playing a different game. Rather, like a pawn on Russia’s chessboard, Mr. Obama is just being played. (April 15)

Instead, Mr. Obama was seen as weak in the tense standoff and his sanctions impotent. Mr. Putin, however, was seen as fully in command of the situation, pulling off the audacious land grab without so much as a scratch on him. (April 8)

With his uncontested success in Georgia and now with the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula, we can be sure that the weakness of our leadership has only whetted the KGB thug’s appetite. Will eastern Ukraine next? After all, there are Russian-speaking nationals in eastern Ukraine who obviously will want protection from the regime in Kiev, which Mr. Putin declares is fascist. (March 25)

The weakness shown by President Obama on the world stage has opened the door for Russian aggression in Ukraine, Sen. Ted Cruz said Sunday. (March 9)
Read more »

Labels: ,

Math is hard. Let's go gambling!

What's the bad news from the East Coast there, Ohio's Greatest Home Newspaper?*

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Atlantic City started the year with 12 casinos. By Labor Day, it could be down to nine.

Nine minus twelve, carry the two, look at the tens place -- do you suppose there's a hint in the fourth graf?

... Mayor Don Guardian, who could see a quarter of his city’s casinos close during his first year in office, said Atlantic City is in the midst of a difficult but necessary makeover from being a gambling resort to a multifaceted destination where betting is only part of the allure.

Let's stay away from those friendly games of chance until we get this worked out, all right?

(h/t operative "Natasha" from the Central Ohio Bureau) 

* UPDATE: The hed's now corrected online, so credit where it's due.

Labels: ,

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Today in beachwear

OK, not really today, but part of the long holiday weekend -- what do you suppose Arthur was baring?

Just a reminder that our little friends at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network don't really do anything well, even when there's no Kenyan usurper to distract them. 

Labels: ,

Friday, July 04, 2014

You're not making it easy on us

Rolling Stone gets its feet caught in headline habits on this one. The trouble with using a comma to replace "and" is that we don't know where to make the compound: are Neil Young and the Crazy Horse bassist doing something, or is the bassist for Neil Young and Crazy Horse doing something? The singular verb clears it up eventually, but that's still more work than a hed ought to make you do -- even in the specialized press.

h/t Danny of the Clean Desk Club: Keep them god dang desks clean.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

What, me worry?

Whan that Aprille swillin potrzebie:

The obituary also misstated the middle initial of the father of Mr. Baker’s second wife, former Senator Nancy L. Kassebaum of Kansas. He was Alfred M. Landon, not Alfred E.

Labels: ,