Monday, May 26, 2014

Sentence of the morning

Back story: Popular restaurant on Woodward, formerly an auto repair shop, has bought some houses to knock down for a parking lot, and some neighbors aren't happy:

Guirey and his neighbors say they believe that the lot will drop their property values faster than Vinsetta Garage diners order french fries and cheese curds with their beer and custard milkshakes.

You might be asking exactly how fast that is. Or you might be asking if that's what the retired auditor and his neighbors actually said. (A widely followed if usually unwritten journalistic peeve holds that you can never write about what people "think," only what they "say they think"; here, it collides with another peeve, which holds that you "believe" in, e.g., the power of love but "think" about parking and property values.) You might even be wondering who exactly thought a pop-up link from "french fries" to a Big Mac ad seemed like a good idea. But you can at least be grateful that some hyphen-obsessed editor downtown didn't decide to create a "beer-and-custard milkshake."

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Light of the staple

Which handbasket is the world going to hell in today, Fair 'n' Balanced Network?

Before you polish up the tongs for the grilling season, brace yourself.  Rising prices or shortages of many summer barbecue stables may put a damper on that Memorial Day party.

From booze to burgers, a spike in demand for some classic food and drink items, coupled with harsh weather conditions, has made it more expensive than ever to get your grill fired up.
Read on to see how your favorite summer foods could go up in smoke -- and plan accordingly.

And we all know whose fault that is, don't we, commenters?

Food prices all around have risen to astronomical prices ever since 2009.

Hmm. How do you suppose this perennial spring tale looked at Fox on ... could it be May 21, 2008? "Americans are about to fire up their barbecues for the start of the summer cookout season, and one thing has become painfully apparent: It's going to cost a lot more than it did last year to roast a burger,* or just about any other barbecue favorite, on the grill."
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Today in biting back

Even if you're the Fair 'n' Balanced Network, you really ought to look at how the heds and images work together before you hit the "publish" button.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Stop press!

You can see why they're in a panic over to The Fox Nation: The deranged Kenyan usurper has once again failed to stand up for what's right and good. INPEACH!!1!1!!1!!1!!!!!!! (Or, for a good time, just read the comments.)

Kind of a shame that the Fair 'n' Balanced Network missed the part where the Kenyan, um, made a whole proclamation about Armed Forces Day on Friday.

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Today in elongated yellow fruit

It's a good day on the elongated yellow fruit front! First, this from our neighbors to the south, passed along by the ever-alert Bremner Editing Center:

South Carolina’s state beverage is milk. Its insect is the praying mantis. There’s a designated dance—the shag—as well a sanctioned tartan, game bird, dog, flower, gem and snack food (boiled peanuts). But what Olivia McConnell noticed was missing from among her home’s 50 official symbols was a fossil. So last year, the eight-year-old science enthusiast wrote to the governor and her representatives to nominate the Columbian mammoth. Teeth from the woolly proboscidean, dug up by slaves on a local plantation in 1725, were among the first remains of an ancient species ever discovered in North America.

And then there's the Fair 'n' Balanced Network:

Seven decades after ­Allied troops stormed Normandy’s beaches and saved France from the Nazis, the surrender-happy nation is turning its back on hundreds of US veterans who want to return next month to mark the invasion’s 70th anniversary.

And our source for this is ...

France has broken its promise to pay for the vets to fly to this year’s commemoration, according to Rep. Michael Grimm.

Would that be the Rep. Michael Grimm passing the word along to the New York Post there? The one who threatened to throw a reporter off a balcony for daring to ask about the investigation that, um, led to his indictment? Interesting way to get back into the spotlight, don't you think?

“Our chief-of-staff heard it from the French Embassy in DC — that they would be flown out to France [for free],” said Nick Iacono, a spokesman for the Staten Island congressman.

But when The Post contacted the embassy Friday, the French turned up their noses as if smelling rotten Camembert.

Since it's still May in a year that ends in "4," do you figure somebody ought to remind the rubes in New York that the French are a little meaner than they let on, surrenderwise?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Climategate II vs. Reviewer 2

My first Third Battle of Manassas was the 1988 one, though they appear to have been flaring up since sometime in the 19th century and show no sign of going gently into that good night. The lesson for hed writers is simple: Before you reach for that particular cliche, spend some time in the files and see how often you and your colleagues have invoked it already.

That's the trouble with "Climategate II": Fox has already declared it -- without the question mark, no less -- in a September story. Like First Climategate, the first Second Climategate was a fabricated scandal that relied on deliberately stupid misreadings of cherry-picked information, but you probably guessed that. Anyway, here's Fox catching up with the top story in the morning's (Murdoch) Times and at Drudge:
Some are calling it the new "Climategate."

A paper by Lennart Bengtsson, a respected research fellow and climatologist at Britain's University of Reading, was rejected last February by a leading academic journal after a reviewer found it "harmful" to the climate change agenda. The incident is prompting new charges that the scientific community is muzzling dissent when it comes to global warming.

Apparently it took Fox a while to find an appropriate "some" to put everything into context:

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I'll have the usually

Mighty usual weather we're having this year, isn't it? Since corrected online (alas) to conform with the lede:

The brush fires that swept across San Diego County on Wednesday were fueled by a dangerous mix of record-high temperatures and strong winds that officials say are unusual for May. 

... but the htm is still there in all its glory: "la-me-ln-wildfires-fueled-by-usually-hot-may-20140514-story."

(Thanks to Pete Hahnloser for the share)

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

For some values of 'plummeting'

Based on tonight's No. 2 story at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network, would you say that over the past year, "trust in government" has:


Or stayed about the same?

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

On what planet ...

... with how many backward-rotating methane-fed suns, does the editor of the, you know, New York Times become "NYT Jill"?

Oh, right. The strange world of the Murdoch redtop! These are from the spring 2004 stash:

TV Henry is broke
TV Kiefer injured in bar fight
TV Carol sees spot where skydive daughter died
TV Chris is new Dr Who

In other words, The Drudge Report* isn't just the sort of place where stories reflecting gender equity issues get headlines that, you know, exemplify gender equity issues. It's also the sort of place that bows to foreign headline dialects, and that's just flat-out un-American. (Not to mention the claim quotes.)

When, when will Drudge and the New York Post be held to account for their traitorous headlines? Only you have the answer, America!

* If you get the "war" bit, you read far too much paranoid media for your own good and should take a vacation.

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The easy way

Since the story specifies his rank:

When President Barack Obama draped the Medal of Honor around former Army Sgt. Kyle White’s neck, the Charlotte, N.C., man became just the seventh living recipient of the nation’s highest military honor for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

... wouldn't it be easier to just repeat that in the headline? As an added advantage, you wouldn't have to write a correction.

Read more here:

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A few sharp victories ...

... some conspicuous acts of personal bravery on the Patriot side and a colourful entry into the capital! Since some poltroon has laid claim to "Daily Beast," we shall have to look instead on what appears to be the Daily Mail's policy for the war.

Boosted by the teaser "Impeachable?" at the Drudge Report, WND sends those readers who can spare a moment from stockpiling gold and freeze-dried food to an EXCLUSIVE review of the new WND epic "Impeachable Offenses?" at the Mail. Little therein will surprise you if you're familiar with the Mail as a print or online product, but the Mail's explanation of the Iran-contra follies in relation to BENGHAZI!!!!!!!!!!!!! is particularly enlightening:

It's difficult to read without drawing parallels with the 1980s-era arms-for-hostages deal that brought charges against 13 Reagan administration officials, many of whom received pardons from President George H.W. Bush before they could be tried.

That case, although different in many crucial ways, put arms in the hands of Iranian rebels and was originally conceived as an unlikely scheme to use Israel as a middle-man to supply them. Later on, the plan was modified to use some of the proceeds from the sale to fund anti-communist rebels in Nicaragua.

One of those "crucial ways" might be that the "Iranian rebels" were (oh, how do you put this?) the Iranian government. Iran was in the middle of a protracted and very old-fashioned war with Iraq, which we liked rather better despite its occasional tendency to attack American warships and use chemical weapons on the battlefield (which the Iranians did too, though less effectively) and against uppity civilian populations. But the powers that be seemed to think that some advanced antitank and antiair missiles -- this part is generally considered "negotiating with terrorists," which itself is an interesting lesson in how interchangeable "terrorists" and "government" are as concepts -- would help the Iranians encourage their friends in Lebanon to, you know, and if a little extra money is diverted to some actual rebels* in the bargain, who cares? Let's let the Mail provide more context!

... Weapons delivered secretly to overseas agitators, as Iran-Contra later showed, can bring unintended consequences. A generation later, the Muslim sect marching Iran toward nuclear weapons are successors to the rebel group the U.S. armed in the 1980s.

That's certainly a lesson we want to -- umm, march toward with. It could also lead us to wonder again why it is that people get information from the Daily Mail. Except for that colourful entry into the capital!

* The Contra movement was anti-Sandinista (partly because some of it was disgruntled Sandinista) but not anti-communist in any meaningful way; the Sandis and the Nicaraguan communists never really got along anyway.

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Great minds think ... wait, no

Add to the list of Things To Never, Ever Forget About Hed Writing:

If it's the first thing that comes to mind, slow down and wait for a second thing to come to mind.

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Willie Gillis in flying Winnebago

A: The amount of time it takes for a story about a Norman Rockwell painting to become an Obama story at Fox.
Q: What is "about two hours," Alex?

Our story in brief: Rockwell donated one of his "Willie Gillis" paintings to a high school principal who had been seeking to buy a senior class present. Now, mindful of the value of Rockwells, town officials have decided to put "Willie Gillis in Convoy" up for auction, with the proceeds destined for "an educational endowment for the town's schools."

You could get out your J104 textbook and try to figure out which of the basic news values (proximity, conflict, timeliness, and so forth) put this among Fox's top four stories this morning, or you could just let the commenters tell you:

This auction should be dis-allowed. The painting is public property.

Don't say that, then the Feds will be in charge of the redistribution of the proceeds. Meaning the proceeds will be used to restock O's flying Winnebago (AF1).

Read more »

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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Today in personalization

How did the Daily Mail become such an awesome authority on all things American? Who cares when you can put BILLIONS in capital LETTERS! But did you WONDER how many of those ASSERTIONS are TRUE?

You might already be wondering, for example, how the Kenyan usurper is planning to replace "his private fleet" of helicopters if he won't be able to use them until, um, five years after he leaves office. Or -- getting into just the first of the bulleted decks here -- how he's going to spend $20 BILLION if $3 BILLION of the total had already been spent between 2005 and 2009. Or you might read the text itself:

Adding in the likely $17 billion price tag for the new project – a number estimated by the Congressional Budget Office – the $20 billion total makes the fleet the most expensive helicopters ever built.

... and wonder why the link to the number "estimated" by the CBO takes you right back to the story you're reading! Or you could be wondering where all those pesky numbers themselves come from, which -- should you hang in with the Mail for a bit -- will get you to a story a day earlier from the incredibly reliable Daily Beast:

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Friday, May 09, 2014

Love's throbbing deadline

Let's say there are a couple of ways you could talk about a $400 million-plus deal in which the print wing of the Murdoch empire agrees to buy a really smart and diverse multilingual publishing house. You could, for example, be interested in what the old fox is up to, or in the general state of media consolidation in the US and Canada. Or you could, you know, be all writerly:
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Nice business you got there, pope

We wouldn't want anything to happen to it, would we?

The old Fair 'n' Balanced undergarments are in a proper twist today. Let's let John Moody, executive vice president and executive editor, explain why:

On Friday... Francis chose a meeting with – of all people -- officials of the United Nations to endorse what he called “the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society.”

By appearing to sanction what amounts to forced redistribution, Francis grievously exceeded his authority and became what amounts to a robe-wearing politician.

Good thing there's a former Vatican correspondent* to put him in his place, huh?

... The pope is the head of the Church. He is the Vicar of Christ and is infallible on matters of doctrine.

When it comes to economics, however, Francis should stick to making suggestions for how to voluntarily reduce economic inequality and leave tax policy to the politicians.

I'm reminded of my all-time favorite argument against allowing the term "miracle" in your news pages, paraphrased here from the Montreal Gazette stylebook: Don't try to muscle in on the pope's territory. He might retaliate by editing copy.

* And enough of a race-baiting loony to fit right in at Fox: "The Pietá, for instance, should fetch a pretty penny, especially if the buyer is, say, a backer of Al Qaeda who can afford to smash it to pieces as soon as it is acquired."

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Tuesday, May 06, 2014

The black guy's playing golf again

Here's the NRO post Drudge links to from the above:

Had you noticed we were enjoying a “Year of Action”? Are you enjoying it?

On Saturday President Obama enjoyed his 11th golf outing of the year before heading off to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Today the president meets with President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti and then hosts a Cinco de Mayo reception in the Rose Garden. Later this week, the president will attend four Democratic fundraisers in California.

But perhaps the clearest sign of the “Year of Action” is in the results.

Further questions?

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Monday, May 05, 2014

We don't have a Roderick, either

You can mock the first round if you want, but you can't do it by holding a mock draft.

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Sunday, May 04, 2014

Realism-free zone

Is this one just getting too stale?

A: What is "none," Alex?
Q: The number of Iranian protests, or protesters, mentioned in the AP story linked from the Drudge headline above!
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Saturday, May 03, 2014

Today in claim quotes

Submitted for discussion: What are those suspiciously foreign quote marks doing on the front page of an (allegedly) American fishwrap?

"Bus slay punk," on its own, is a distinctly American tabloid noun phrase. It's nowhere near a genuine noun pile; the only thing British about it is the use of quotation marks to indicate -- in Ten Minutes Past Deadline's excellent summary -- "a newsworthy assertion made by a third party about which the news organisation is reserving judgment." That function is clear in "Under-fives death rate 'high in UK'," on the BBC home page even as we speak: there isn't room to attribute the assertion, but the claim quotes signal that the attribution is coming.

There's the odd part. Calling someone a punk might be rude, but calling him a killer would pose some actual legal risk, so a decent respect for the publisher's checkbook calls for a little attention to the niceties. If that's the point, though, the claim quotes aren't just in the wrong headline dialect, they're attributing the wrong thing. The one thing that doesn't appear to be in question in the Post's story is that a "bus slay" took place. Reserving judgment on that point is less a problem here than declaring him guilty in the body type, which the Post does with its usual glee.

What do you say, British readers? Do the claim quotes work correctly here?

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It's only the print edition

OK, I know it's not nice to pick on individual episodic mistakes, but -- since it's at the top of the front page, and it's in big type and all that, do you think you could at least spell the guy's last name the same way it's spelled in the cutline and the story?

This isn't the first time Rodriguez's name has been misspelled at the Freep, and he's not the only Rodriguez to get the multiple-spelling treatment. But he is kind of distinctively local, and it is the front page, and that's still sometimes the first indication your audience gets of your interest in quality control.


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Friday, May 02, 2014

Things fall apart

Is there any lesson in copy editing more basic than this one?

The person who stole the head (or the bobblehead, or the bobblehead head, depending on which part of the story you read) is the "bandit." The person who's in custody is a "suspect." You don't know, and the cops have yet to demonstrate, that they're the same person. Unless you have a sign on your forehead that says "Lawyers: Let me show you how to take lots of my employer's money," you would do well to attend to the distinction.

It looks easy in the way that infielders make hard ground balls look easy: if you can't get them right, you don't get to call yourself a pro for very long.

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The black guy's not playing golf!

No, it's worse than that. Far worse. He doesn't like Camp David! Take it away, The Washington Times:

President Obama differs from his predecessor on more than just policy.

Compared with President George W. Bush, Mr. Obama has rarely visited Camp David, the sprawling, secluded retreat in northern Maryland that has become a regular getaway spot for presidents over the past 70 years.

Although Mr. Obama hasn’t shunned the location entirely — he spent his 52nd birthday there last year — veteran Washington reporters and pundits say it’s clear that the 44th president hasn’t warmed up to Camp David in the same way as did Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and Mr. Bush.

Let's let some veteran reporters and pundits explain why:

“I suspect part of the reason is because his daughters would prefer to be in the city, prefer to be at the White House,” said Ken Walsh, chief White House correspondent for U.S. News & World Report and author of the book “From Mount Vernon to Crawford: A History of the Presidents and Their Retreats.”

“I’ve been told that as an urban man, a guy from Chicago, he doesn’t take to Camp David and its rural setting as much as other presidents have. That’s another part of it,” he said.

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