Friday, December 15, 2006

No, just dumb enough

Here's the scenario. A friend asks you to read over his (or her, or its, or their) prize lede (or cover letter, or application, or whatever). "Does that sound too stupid?" friend asks. Your answer:

a) Yes
b) No
c) Just stupid enough!

Exactly. Hence today's lesson in careless hed writing:

Study: It's too easy for minors to buy booze
Even in areas that teens called hard places to purchase, stores sold without checking ID

Too many stores in some Charlotte neighborhoods are letting minors buy alcohol, a study released Thursday suggests.

The main hed invites (without begging, of course) a question: How easy is easy enough for minors to buy booze? Unfortunately, it's a fairly good reflection of the lede, which also suggests that there's a correct number of stores that let minors buy alcohol. Remember, heds don't always say what you mean, but you can count on them to say what they say.

Now for the deck. Apparently there's some sort of cosmic clothes dryer into which prepositions, like socks, mysteriously vanish, only to reappear without warning in other headlines or popular songs (hence the so-called McCartney preposition: "This ever-changing world in which we live in"). These areas aren't hard places to purchase. Madison Square Garden would be a hard place to purchase. These are hard places to purchase beer or wine in*. Or in which to buy beer or wine. You need both complements.

And even when a "study" appears to be on the side of the angels, don't let it smudge the lines. This isn't a test of whether minors can buy alcohol. It's a test of whether people the group thinks look younger than 21 can buy alcohol.

* "Booze" is a bad choice of slang here; isn't that still restricted to ABC stores?


Blogger Andy Bechtel said...

You are correct. When in North Carolina, you have to go to a state-sanctioned store to buy booze. Here's how it works:

"Individuals cannot open liquor stores in North Carolina. Towns and counties have elections for an ABC store. The town and county appointing authorities then appoint board members whose responsibility it is to establish the ABC store."

1:47 PM, December 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey ... the lede itself has a problem I often find in studies, stats stories, etc. ... the mixing of qualifiers that make the results *sound* convincing:

TOO many stores in SOME Charlotte neighborhoods are letting minors buy alcohol, a study released Thursday suggests.

Conversely, are not enough stores in most Charlotte neighborhoods letting them buy?

oh, bother.

7:54 PM, December 15, 2006  

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