Friday, June 24, 2016

Today in framing

Pretty scary story there, Fair 'n' Balanced Network:

A former top Clinton administration diplomat who used his political sway to garner support for the Iran nuclear deal apparently was being bankrolled the entire time by Boeing -- which is set to make billions off a jet deal with Tehran now that sanctions have been lifted.

Campaign-season-wise, do you think the hed would have a different impact if it said "Reagan's ambassador to Israel got $$$ while pushing Iran deal"? Because Thomas Pickering's career kind of goes back a ways (he was Tricky's ambassador to Jordan after the October war, if you want to put it that way).

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

1066 and all that

Because at the Daily Mail, going out in the rain to vote was their finest hour.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The little ones chewed on the polls, oh

Does Drudge's hed syntax these days remind you of making spaghetti in college? Just throw some grammar at the wall and see if something sticks?

As a reminder, of course, always be careful about how you abbreviate states:

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

One can only hope

Perhaps, having raised the question ("Dat's All?") upon the Wings' exit from the playoffs two months ago, someone felt obliged to answer it. Either that or we have a new data point for measuring attention spans downtown.

I'll miss Datsyuk, who was an important part of the overall cultural picture as I tried to adapt to the folkways of the new hometown. I can do without the annual welter of "Dat's" heds. On the bright side, the hed could have said "It's official: Dat's all."

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Or not (one born every minute)

What's the latest in statistical inference there, Washington Post?

The Republican National Convention begins in Cleveland in 31 days. That means that one month from today, Republicans will (almost certainly) start the process of nominating Donald Trump as their presidential nominee to take on Hillary Clinton in the fall campaign.

That prospect looks increasingly problematic — somewhere between a stone-cold loser and a long-shot gamble. With not only the White House at stake but also Republicans' Senate majority and maybe even their House majority in real peril, the idea of nominating Trump should be cause for a growing sense of panic within GOP ranks.

No doubt they appreciate the advice. But surely there's some evidence, right?

Here's why, courtesy of a chart from RealClearPolitics detailing the polling averages for Clinton and Trump over the past three months.

Trump's numbers shot up in the wake of his victory in the May 3 Indiana primary, a win that effectively sealed his nomination. But as May wore on, Trump's poll numbers not only hit a wall, they began to collapse.


OK. Here are some suggestions if you want your analysis to be taken seriously:

1) Ignore the Real Clear Politics "polling average." It is not a meaningful number.
2) Never write paragraphs like "oomph," whether you understand the results you are describing or not.
3) If you insist on ignoring (1) and (2), at least look at the damn Y-axis.

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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Slow down that shutdown

OK, certain dumb automotive metaphors are always going to have some -- ahem -- traction here in the Motor City. Stuff is going to rev up, whether it should or not. Things are going to reach high gear, whether they're kicked there or not. But what happens, we're entitled to ask, when you put the brakes on a shutdown?

As it turns out, A.J, Liebling addressed the point in 1947, discussing the coverage of postwar food prices:

The Herald Tribune ran a front-page head on September 26, saying: HALT IN SPIRAL OF PRICES LED BY MEAT, EGGS.  Leading a halt, I imagine, would be rather like winning a race at a standstill.

Can't wait to see what the shutdown does when you take the brakes off!


Friday, June 17, 2016

How not to write corrections

Amusing as the Times's rococo approach to burying errors in a thicket of relative clauses might be, the Freep's style of correcting mistakes -- the "should have said" bit -- is even more damaging to clarity. We have no idea what's being corrected; what "should have" been said doesn't tell us what was said and shouldn't have been. And corrections are supposed to be about facts, not value judgments. In the normative world of "should have said," any lede that begins with "it's official" would beget a correction on the order of "An article in Wednesday's Sports section should not have said 'it's official.'"

So what went wrong here? Let's look at the top first, and no, the Freep doesn't correct "all errors of fact." (If you went over to Dearborn to see the B52 Mitchell, you would have done better to spend your Memorial Day watching "Catch-22" and "Dr. Strangelove" back to back.*) It corrects errors if they come to its attention and if it considers them actual errors of fact worth correcting. That process by which "facts" slip into the gray area of subjective judgment is a bigger worry than the rate at which any institution does or doesn't run corrections:
The letter is specifically not about attacks "in Israel"; the writer is complaining about the lack of coverage of attacks against Jews in the West Bank, by way of hoping that attitudes toward settlement policy aren't tilting the board. Given the Freep's sometimes hilarious understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian issue, I'd bet on ignorance rather than bias, but if the Freep failed to correct this fairly binary headline error because, well, the whole Mideast thing is just something people disagree about, we have a much larger problem on our hands.

Anyway, while you put together a pool with your friends on how soon those errors** are corrected -- what do you suppose went wrong enough to merit a correction today?

Oh. It screwed up from the first word. It "should have" said Vernon Harris grew up loving hockey, because apparently it's about Vernon Harris, rather than Willie Norris. (Yes, that means the second sentence should have been corrected too.) And what could have been a touching and reasonably salient sidebar amid the welter of fulsome Howe coverage is borked forever.

The corrected version online is at least mildly frank in describing the nature of the error. But for print readers -- I'm counting those of us who read the print version online here, few as we may be -- "should have said" is really not enough.

* Actually, that's not a bad idea for most holiday weekends.
** Feb. 4 and May 28, if you're scoring along at home. 

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Let's start a pool

Could it be ... a Fox-bylined story pointing out that Fox's favorite talk-show guest is, um, a deranged liar?

Despite Donald Trump's claim this week that the Muslim community has failed to report terror threats, U.S. officials said Muslims have relayed critical tips to investigators time and time again.

Two seats for the next unheated cattle car to Siberia, please! Anyone want to start a pool on how long this one stays available on the homepage?


Today in overtly racist lying

Well, this one didn't take long to get from the Teenage Mutant Ninja press to the glorious mainstream, did it? Here's the Daily Caller:

Sadiq Khan, London’s first Muslim mayor, announced Monday that “body shaming” advertisements will no longer be allowed in London’s public transport.

... Khan was not clear in what would determine which ads would be banned, as it doesn’t include all images of people in underwear or swimming clothes. Most underwear and bikini models though can be assumed to have non-average bodies.

Because why -- even when "go online and Google it" is a thing stupid candidates say in actual debates -- would anyone bother to look up TfL's advertising policy? Large amounts of it will look familiar if you've worked in a shop that sold enough advertising* to have advertising standards. When might a ban come into play, you ask?

The advertisement refers to or portrays (or gives the impression of portraying) a living person unless the written consent of that person is obtained and is produced to TfL.
Indeed, lots of societies that aren't run by Muslims -- say, the society that spent eight years trying to fine a TV network a thousand dollars per breast-millisecond over a Super Bowl halftime event -- regulate public portrayals of the body. It's hard to imagine an adult being surprised at the idea, as the source paper isn't:
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