Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Who did what to whom?

From the Why We Have Editors front:

Police say a man who shot a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police crime-scene technician was waiting for him to arrive at his east Charlotte home Friday night.

Might as well toss a coin. Was the crime scene technician arriving at a crime scene (say, the assailant's house), or was he arriving at his own home, where someone was lying in wait?

The victim, a civilian who works for CMPD, was shot outside his home on Driftwood Drive off Albemarle Road, police said.

Well, why didn't you say so? By the way, how's he doing?

When officers arrived, they found the man -- who was off duty but still dressed in his uniform -- suffering from a gunshot wound to his lower abdomen.

If you can hang on until the sixth graf, you'll find out that they were neighbors. In the seventh. we learn that the victim was "transported" (which is what people writing in a hurry -- or convinced it's really, really important to sound like a cop show -- say when they mean "taken") to the hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries.

Since this is the first I've heard of the story, my natural inclination is toward a first-day lede, rather than a pronoun hash, and toward a passive clause that fronts the object, rather than what the cops did:

A police crime scene technician was shot and injured outside his home Friday night by a neighbor who was lying in wait for him, police said.

Then you can set to ease the concerns about whether it was job-related:

The two neighbors had had an ongoing dispute, police said.

I thought it was more fun when we did that before the stuff was printed.




Blogger John Cowan said...

Your lead is of course far superior, but when I read the lead first before proceeding further, I was not conscious of any ambiguity, and unlike Vizzini's "Inconceivable!", it did mean what I thought it meant. Him and his without an intervening noun should both refer back to the most recent personal noun, technician, and so they do. To read his as referring to the shooter would be much less likely.

6:08 PM, February 09, 2011  
Anonymous Andy Bechtel said...

But you are suggesting using the passive voice. This is against the rules, no?

No, it isn't. And this is an example where it's better than active.

7:00 PM, February 13, 2011  

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