Thursday, March 20, 2008

Journalism weirdness of the day

A few completely unrelated bits of strange news language from today's Founts of Information:

It’s unclear how much damage, if any, the situation will do to Obama’s standing in his heat-to-hear race with Hillary Clinton.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes a typo is just a typo, and sometimes two typos are just ... two typos. So save any comments about presupposition and Fox for later. What's interesting here is how something as straightforward -- you'd think -- as "head-to-head race" managed to get so entertainingly corkscrewed.

First, just Googling around, are a couple of things it almost certainly wasn't intended to be:
"hear-to-hear race" (no hits)
"heat-to-heat race" (only one, a recutting of "heat to heat, race to race")
"heart-to-heart race" (some things that appear to be fundraisers, and a recut blurb from a Harlequin NASCAR novel*)

"Head-to-head" looks like the obvious winner, but I wonder of some of those tens of thousands of "heat to hear" references:
"Idol" fans, celebrities brave heat to hear Sparks
Check out "Bakin' in the Heat" to hear their signature rock sound.
Listeners and sponsors rely on 106.3 The HEAT to hear their favorite music.
... hydration issues during the heat. To hear Rosenbloom’s tips ....
you may have to turn off your heat to hear it

... had some sort of unholy Cupertinoid influence. Or if Fox really has decided to chunk all copyeds overboard in this brave new world of live-every-second journalism.

Then there's this, from America's Heartland:
Gunshots a mystery in south Columbia
Gunshots were reported early Sunday in a south Columbia neighborhood, and police found shell casings. But police say no victims or witnesses have identified themselves.

The hed has the same content -- well, sorta -- as the lede, but it's "about" something entirely different. The story is about a report of gunshots. What's the hed about? Maybe it's about where gunshots are a mystery. Maybe it's about some property of south Columbia, a happy land where it never rains before the late news and firearms are unheard of. But it's not about things going bang, should that be what you were interested in.

[UPDATE: And this just in! New Jersey man, right, charged in the murder of his mistress and mother of his child, left, despite the fact that police have yet to find her or her body. Imagine that.]

* Is this a great country, or what?


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