Saturday, August 11, 2007

Bad guess

Behold, a hed writer being led down the crooked path of sin:

Man avoids death term in hotel fire
Judge says he'll order life without parole after jury can't decide

You can see the source of the temptation. "Prison term" becomes "prison sentence" in heds because "term" makes sense and it's four counts, rather than seven and a half. But it doesn't mean "sentence"; it means something else that "sentence" also means in that context:

A portion of time having definite limits; a period, esp. a set or appointed period; the space of time through which something lasts or is intended to last; duration, length of time.

So "prison term" works, but -- well, bad news. There's no such thing as a "death term." Although now that somebody has gotten away with it, somebody else can point to it and ... the horror.


Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Unfortunately, it's happened before. Here are a few examples:

Libya court overturns death term

Supreme court awards death term to couple for killing seven of family.

Chinese police officer gets death term.

Death term for spreading SARS

First key charges in Sept 11 probe; French faces death term

Terror victims against scrapping of death term

High court to review death term

Many of these were from Asian sources, but not all - one was from the Baltimore Sun in fact (the last one). All the sources went back to "death sentence" in the article...

7:47 AM, August 12, 2007  
Blogger fev said...

Cool: Thanks for the archive work.

Poor Baltimore is covering a lot of front with very few troops these days.

11:39 AM, August 13, 2007  

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