Saturday, January 27, 2007

More hed slips

And some more instructive hed errors from the past week:

Student held in journalist's death
ISTANBUL, Turkey -- Police detained a man Saturday suspected of killing an Armenian journalist, acting on a tip from the suspect's father after pictures were broadcast on television, a police official said.

A healthy 80% of the hed is confirmed by the lede: There's a journalist who's dead, and a suspect has been detained, and it's a suspect "in" the case (those prepositions will trip you at the gate sometimes). How about "student," though?

The reader needs to do some wading (one hopes that "caught on a bus" in the second graf wasn't supposed to be the signal) to find out where "student" comes from. It seems to be here:

There were pleas for the public to help track down the suspect and also photographs showing a thin man in his late teens or early 20s with an angular face and a wisp of a mustache. ...

Istanbul Gov. Muammar Guler said the man photographed by security cameras was also identified by Dink's secretary, who said he had requested a meeting with Dink the day he was killed, the Anatolia nenws agency reported. The man said he was a student at Ankara University, Guler said.

Now count up the layers of attribution that go with "student." Official said secretary said man in photo is same one who said he was a student -- three layers, not counting the questions of whether the man in the photo is the suspect and whether the secretary's identification is correct.
So even if we could fit Man who official says secretary says said he was student held in journalist's death into the space allotted, we wouldn't be all the way home.

Just call the guy a "suspect." Stick with what you know, not what you guess might be the case if what somebody said somebody said somebody said turns out to be true.

U.S., Iraqi troops clash in Baghdad
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- U.S. and Iraqi troops battled Sunni insurgents hiding in high-rise buildings on Haifa Street in Baghdad on Wednesday.

Another grammatically flawless hed that has the slight problem of saying almost exactly the opposite of what it means. Two things in the subject can "clash": Buffy and Jody, for example. Or some thing or things in the noun phrase can clash with some thing or things in the predicate: Buffy and Jody can clash with Mr. French. But (b) can't mean (a). The lede has the two groups alllied; the hed has them turning their guns on each other.


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11:09 PM, December 30, 2008  

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