Wednesday, May 15, 2013

You shall never take us alive, officer!

Here's a nice, easy target for someone out there: Get through one hiring cycle without ever referring to the police chief (or whatever the title is in your jurisdiction) as the "top cop."

It's off the table for this candidate; that's today's front page above, and Tuesday's 1A tease below. Monday's online story notes that "this is the second time Craig has tried for the job of Detroit’s top cop," and here's the May 5 lede:

One of the top contenders for the job of Detroit’s police chief is the top cop in Cincinnati.

And a hed from October, when it (ahem) became clear (kaff) that the incumbent was leaving:

City's next top cop will have hands full

... and from the previous April:

Top cop: More concessions are needed

Anyway. Regular correspondent Tom T wrote in a while back to grouse about his local paper's habit of down-talking -- specifically, "bust" for "break":

Multiple car windows busted in Kettering
The windows of close to 20 vehicles in Kettering were shot out between Sunday night and Tuesday morning and police said the suspects are using BB guns to deliver the damage.*

... and wondered if the paper was making itself sound dumb for the audience. I doubt it's dumbing down as much as it is trying to sound like either EyeWitlessNews9 or Just A Regular Guy (no matter that "top cop," like "mull" or "irk," is the sort of news-speak that the standard-issue Regular Guy is unlikely to produce over the standard-issue backyard fence).

"Top cop" isn't the world's most offensive construction. It probably wouldn't even make the list of Top 10 news cliches, and if I was in a ban-issuing mood, I'd ban "police investigated" and "police responded" ledes before turning to the pressing matter of sports section cutlines. But if anyone wants to set an example by stamping out this annoying news-ism on their** own, I will be happy to see that you are written up in despatches.

* Oh, go ahead and read the whole story. You know you want to.
** Neener neener.

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Anonymous raYb said...

Columbus Dispatch briefed this, but they retained "top cop" several places, including the hed.

11:15 PM, May 15, 2013  

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