Monday, April 16, 2007

Superlative alert

Quoth CNN:
A lone gunman is dead after officials said he killed at least 31 people Monday during shootings in a dorm and a building housing classrooms at Virginia Tech, making it the deadliest school attack in U.S. history.

Nope. Next month comes the 80th anniversary of the Bath (Michigan) elementary school bombing, which killed nearly four dozen people. Here's the NYT's hed selection from May 20, 1927:

SCHOOL DYNAMITER
FIRST SLEW WIFE
Charred Body of Mrs. Kehoe Is Found
in Ruins at Home That Michigan Maniac Blew Up.
DEATH LIST NOW TOTALS 44
Said to Have Mania for Killing,
He Is Believed to Have Planned
School Destruction for Weeks.
GOVERNOR STARTS AID FUND
Bath Villagers, Stunned by Awful Deed,
Console One Another as They Prepare to Bury Little Ones

BATH, Mich., May 19. -- Still stunned by the deed of the madman Andrew Kehoe, who yesterday killed his wife and then blew up the consolidated school here and his own automobile, causing the death of forty-three persons, including himself, this little community today was groping its way through tears trying to meet the awful consequences of the tragedy.

(If you're a Times reader, the lede should look familiar: note the determiner retention in "the madman Andrew Kehoe" and the size of the relative clause that comes before the subject. The more things change ...)

Anyway: A big story's the time to ask hard questions of copy, not to let them skate. Nothing wrong with context. Nothing wrong with being respectful. And absolutely no law saying you can't insist on being right while doing all the above.

1 Comments:

Blogger Denise said...

Most VT-related superlatives I've seen were "deadliest shooting," not deadliest attack, and most had lists of the other shootings. Though in the case of attack, CNN is definitely wrong.

3:43 PM, April 17, 2007  

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