English Language in Media Headlines

English is my 2nd language, and yet, I repeatedly find myself offended by the headlines written by mainstream media.  Today's example (NBC News):

Woman dies after falling at least 50 feet from canyon in Utah park

You can't fall 'from a canyon'.  You can fall INTO a canyon (from a cliff, ledge or whatever).  

Have they totally done away with Editors (or can't Editors speak proper English either)?


tomcat said:


Have they totally done away with Editors (or can't Editors speak proper English either)?

 Yes and yes. 


I second that yes and yes. The bane of my syntactical existence at the moment is a radio cell phone ad. A supposed landscaper refers to “me and my brother,” and the company spokeswoman follows up by adding “there’s so many extras” with your chosen plan. The scriptwriter should be locked in a room with a glass of water and a style guide. And yelled at by his/her superiors. Though those superiors probably signed off on the script...ugh. 


Yes, that ad makes me cringe as well.


I always enjoy rereading Richard Lederer’s “Anguished English” — I have an autographed copy purchased after  a lecture at Seton Hall back in the late’80s. laugh out loud fun.

Sample giggles:

— In a recent edition we referred to the chairman of Chrysler Corporation as Lee Iacooccoo. His real name is Lee Iscacca. The Gazette regrets the error.

— IKE SAYS NIXON CAN’T STAND PAT

—NEW HOUSING FOR ELDERLY NOT YET DEAD

— IS THERE A RING OF DEBRIS AROUND URANUS?
— MONDALE’S OFFENSIVE LOOKS HARD TO BEAT


The cracks you see are what happen when newsrooms, to save money, cut way back on the staff professionals who are practiced in writing and editing headlines, but, no, they haven’t totally done away with them.


Heynj said:

I second that yes and yes. The bane of my syntactical existence at the moment is a radio cell phone ad. A supposed landscaper refers to “me and my brother,” and the company spokeswoman follows up by adding “there’s so many extras” with your chosen plan.

If I were writing a radio ad, I’d probably weigh the advantages of formal English against the advantages of common vernacular, depending on my purpose.


OMG meanwhile texting is also destroying the written language via the new hieroglyphics of emojis tongue wink and also acronyms of entire phrases that I would have previously thought only the military could embrace. LOL.

I mean, I ain't no grammatical expert or nuthin' but I say use your words people! Use your words! AKA: UYW.


TIL UYW means Use your Words.


My pet peeve is when people, both in written and oral form, can not handle multiple sentence proper nouns.  For example: "Me and Ted went to town".  You wouldn't say "Me went to town", would you?  This is so common it is unbelievable and makes I cringe at how often even seemingly educated people make this faux pas.


I don't have a problem with a syntactical error in a headline as much as I have with headlines that mislead about the content of the article.  As with the recent right wing brouhaha over the "lab leak" theory of the COVID-19 origin.  A WaPo headline originally said the "lab leak" theory was "debunked" when in fact the articles say no such thing.  The articles indicate that there was no evidence for the theory.  Which is very different from "debunked."  Media outlets lose a lot more credibility with that kind of error as opposed to writing about falling from a canyon instead of into one.

Media outlets need to give as much scrutiny (arguably more) to the headlines as they give to the stories.




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