Friday, December 22, 2006

Local Couple's Vacation In Peril!

Behold, a head-on collision between the first-biggest-only rule and the nose-in-the-sand provincialism of the American press. Thus, a two-pronged reminder for copyeds:

1) Any time a story proclaims some event to be the first, biggest or only of its kind, the copydesk should demand (a) a copy of the scoring rules and (b) a list of the three runners-up.
2) There is a world out there beyond the borders of These United States. Really!

Anyway, today's lesson:
No true-life tale arrives with more built-in poignancy than We Are Marshall, about the aftermath of the worst sports disaster in history.

In November 1970, a private plane carrying the Marshall University football squad home from a tough loss in North Carolina crashed near its destination, killing all 75 people on board — including players, coaches, boosters and flight-crew members.

OK, let's spot our expert the easy one. The operational definition of "worst" is going to be "most deaths." Can we have a list of the event that this bumped from the hallowed peak of sports disasterdom and two runners-up? The short answer is "no," unless you believe that the only history is American history.

For starters? Well, there's the mildly famous Le Mans prang of 1955, which left more than 80 spectators dead. Or if you insist that your sports have to have at least one ball, 300-plus dead in a soccer riot in Peru in 1964.

In the years after the Marshall crash (which wasn't a "private plane," by the way; it was a Southern Airways charter), and thus more likely to have been shoehorned into the next day's paper by someone within shouting distance of the copydesk, we have the Sheffield stampede of 1989 (95 dead), the 1988 storm-related crush in Katmandu (93 dead) and a melee-stampede at a World Cup qualifier in Guatemala in 1996 (80-plus). None of them especially hard to find in the archive.

Whenever you run into an absolute or a superlative, even in the toy department, run it through the metal detector. Odds are it's bogus. You'll endure some growls from the prima donnas, but it'll all be worthwhile when the corrections dog doesn't bark in the night.

Of course, for our friends at Fox News, America First isn't just a philosophy, it's a way of life!

Blizzard Paralyzes Air Traffic Around The Globe

The closest resemblance to which in the text is in the seventh graf:

The 2,000-plus canceled flights at Denver, the nation's fifth-busiest airport, caused a ripple effect that disrupted air travel around the country just as the holiday crush began.

The Beeb is steadfastly resisting the temptation to run with "Fog On Channel, Continent Cut Off." That's got to be tough.

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