Monday, December 12, 2005

Of course. Why do you ask?

If you've been keeping up (of course you have!) with the discussion on the subscribers-only edn about the virtues of "said" and the pitfalls of all other verbs of attribution, you might have had a twinge of cognitive dissonance on seeing this:

Hundreds of carpenters, he explained, had hand-carved thousands of beams from Styrofoam, molded rubber into countless strands of stand-ins for shredded reinforcing bars, and assembled all of this inside a pit erected atop stacks of cargo containers.

in Sunday's NYT. Is it still wrong to use "explained" to attribute a clause if the Times does it?

The answer is yes. Why wouldn't it be? The source can "explain" the decision to shoot the movie in LA rather than New York, or the process of making rubber look like shredded rebar,* but this graf needs "said" for attribution. A bad decision by the Times is the same as a bad decision at the Missourian, only with a few more zeds on the circulation figures.

The hed's not half bad, tho:
A Ground Zero Grows in Los Angeles

* "What's for breakfast, Mom?"


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