Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Paging Dr. Observer

And you went to medical school -- where was it again?

Go ahead and write this in the margin of your stylebook. Medical predictions in heds are forbidden under all circumstances. "Smith will recover" is not, and never will be, acceptable shorthand for "Doctors expect Smith to recover":

Doctors say the sole survivor of a fireworks explosion that killed four others on North Carolina's Outer Banks will recover from burns on his arms and face but will face a lifetime of therapy.

Report, don't diagnose. If you're having trouble figuring out the difference, please have your insurance information ready and hold for the next available operator.


Anonymous Ed said...

Great opportunity to use British-style 'claim quotes', though:

Survivor of fireworks blast 'will recover'

Perfect! Clearly no longer a diagnosis, and less than an en wider than the original hed. And that's really how they're understood in Blighty: as softening what would, without them, be a categorical assertion.

6:40 AM, July 10, 2009  
Blogger fev said...

The 'claim quotes' do that extremely well, but the function of quotes in heds may be the sort of dialect chasm that the English-speaking democracies will never bridge. I fear the end result would be sort of like walking into the King's Head and asking for a Bud Light (or serving baked beans at breakfast in the dormitories here).

12:09 PM, July 12, 2009  

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