Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why are you asking me?

This sort of story is really the classic argument against the question hed. If you're winding up to a nut graf like this:

Ten years after the attack, an in-depth examination of the case against Ivins by PBS' "Frontline," McClatchy Newspapers and ProPublica raises fresh doubts about the government's evidence and questions whether, despite a $100 million investigation, the real anthrax killer remains on the loose.

... you're the one with the answer, or at least a good approximation of it. So why are you asking me?

The question hed is often an easy way out, so it's worth taking a look at how many papers managed to front the story while still writing a declarative hed. (In no particular order, we have Lexington, Wichita, Raleigh, KC and Fort Worth.) The outlier at lower right is Belleville, which managed to find an even less relevant question to ask.

Please. Only you can prevent the Stupid Question. Do it for the children.



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