Reporters doesn’t write good no more

Things about newsroom slaves that bug this ex-serf:

Congratulations to The Toronto Sun copy desk for writing on May 18, 2006, the headline “Terror accused wants evidence” which is correct and not “accused terrorist” which is not correct. The headline “accused rapist” convicts the accused before the trial and is grossly inaccurate. Is there an agenda somewhere?


When Ernest Hemingway wrote his classic For Whom the Bell Tolls in 1943 he and his editor(s) had the title’s grammer (sic) correct. It’s “whom” – not “who.” But whoever wrote the story headlined “Tories launch probe to find who leaked audit info” for CTV’s web site on May 12, 2006, had a glaring error in the text.


The author wrote:

“Fraser said she is ‘very upset’ by the leak, and has strong suspicions about who is behind the act, but wouldn't reveal who she suspected.”


It should be “whom (the object) she suspected.” An alternative could be “whomever she suspected.”


CTV is a television outfit. Pictures, not words and the grammer (sic), are important in places such as where Ted Baxter used to work.


Hey CTV! It’s like having black-and-white video that’s out of focus, like having an anchor without makeup and hair not combed, like having no respect for the viewers. It’s like your Danny Dipstick saying: “For Who the Bell Tolls.”


Is there no budget for proper grammer (sic)?

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News editors, if you can call them “editors,” have taken to softening the news. It’s much like the bureaucrat who edits the term “haste makes waste” to the softer and greyer “precipitation entails the negation of economy.”

Beware the editor-bureaucrat because he/she will eventually omit certain reports because they are so . . . well . . . so unpleasant.

Ø      Dead soldiers and policemen are now “fallen.”

Ø      Prostitutes are now “sex-trade workers.” But the word “sex” is . . . so unpleasant and demeaning. Why not describe them as “entrepreneurs d’amour?” Much more savory.

Ø      Dope peddlers: Why are they not called “drug-trade pharmacists?” Perhaps the hooker lobby has more pull in the newsroom than the mob.

Ø      Fishermen are now “fishers,” according to the CBC. What about policers, firers, alderers, craftsers and tradesers?

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In a story headlined “MP in judges' furor quits post,” The Toronto Star on May 11, 2006, said this about a Tory from Saskatoon:

“Vellacott's resignation came hours before he would have almost certainly lost a vote of non-confidence as head of the aboriginal affairs committee.”

The better way to write the line:

“Vellacott resigned hours before the aboriginal affairs committee would, almost certainly, have passed a motion expressing no confidence in him as head of the committee.”

But that would take time to polish the stuff between the ads. Time is money. Reporters nowadays are too busy typing to polish.

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The USA Today story of April 27, 2006, which said this about a baseball game in Toronto:

“The duo will try to help Toronto to its first three-game series sweep of the Baltimore Orioles in more than 3 1/2 years when the teams finish their series at Rogers Center.”

The correct name is Rogers Centre, the Canadian spelling of centre. American newsrooms now are awash in ignorance and arrogance. A professional copy desk knows that the spelling of proper names – such as the Rogers Centre – are not changed to fit local orthography.

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Headline writers who use the short word “gas” to mean gasoline – just because it fits. Gas is the gaseous stuff that comes out when a person burps or out the other end when teen-aged boys do “far-r-r-r-r-r-t” jokes. Gasoline is the liquid most people pump into their gasoline-guzzler’s fuel tank. They are not synonymous.

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A headline on the CBS News web site on April 10, 2006, about the biker murders in Ontario. It read “Grisly Canada Slays Tied To Bike Gang.” Them boys and girls righten them heads uses the words “slays” probably to mean murders.  One murder, two murds; one killing, two kills; one assassination,  two assassins.  That kind of headline writin’ just slays me. It are grisly.

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Under the headline “Rookie, vet join Grit race” on April 8, 2006, a Toronto Sun slave reports: “TORONTO -- Michael Ignatieff ended months of speculation yesterday by officially throwing his hat into the Liberal leadership race.” She gets it right by saying “into,” but does one throw one’s hat into a race? Lisa, darling, you may have been writing through your hat, perhaps because you penned the copy at the drop of a hat, or someone had eaten said hat, that being newsroom old hat and where one goes hat in hand to request an increase of remuneration. But . . . but . . .  but I take my hat off to anyone who survives these days in the under-paid, under-staffed reporter biz. But, sweetheart, blendering metaphors is blundering . . . ouch and ugh!

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An Associated Press wire-service item datelined Los Angeles, and headlined “Funeral for LA deputy shot to death in Long Beach,” in The Monterey Herald of April 4, 2006, reported: “The news media (plural) was (singular) barred from the funeral, at the family's request.” Them boys and girls on them their copy desks don’t know much about grammer (sic) no more. That is, of course, if copy desks still exist at The AP in LA and The Herald. Grammer (sic) is expensive, eh? Call it the Copy Shuvelling Desk, eh?

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News items that report so-and-so “suffocated to death.” Suffocation is always fatal. If you suffocates, you is dead. You don’t needs to write “to death.”

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TV News Anchors who report a “new” record blah blah blah. All records are “new.” If they is not new, they is not a record. It’s like announcing – in the appropriately somber anchor tones – that “‘wet’ rain fell in Dallas today.” But, gee, don’t them anchors look good? Don’t they have a great set of pipes? Ted Baxter . . . I loved you, sweetheart.

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Randy, writing for Reuters, on April 11, 2006: “LONDON (Reuters) – “An influx of fresh fund buying and geopolitical worries will most likely push oil prices to new record highs soon, analysts said on Tuesday, while the most bullish predicted prices to eventually climb to $100 (57 pounds) a barrel.” New record; ugh! Copy Desk . . . hello?

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Dumb-bell anchors who pronounce it “nook-u-lar,” like other VIP personages we all know. How the hell did he ever graduate from Harvard? Who wrote his papers?

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Print bunnies, especially Senior Political Reporters of The Toronto Sun, in the March 31, 2006, paper who write: “OTTAWA -- Toronto MP Michael Ignatieff says he'll probably throw his hat in the ring for the Liberal Party leadership within days.” The gal – and the copy desk – apparently don’t know you throw your hat Into (repeat into) the ring. You walk Into (repeat into) a house. If you walk in it, you’re already inside the place. How expensive could proper grammer (sic) be?

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Ignoramuses at Fox Hate (allegedly News) who don’t know the president of Canada is, in fact, the “Prime Minister” and the governors of our states are, in fact, “premiers.” Their intellect matches that of the dumbbell in their Prime Minister’s Residence on Pencilvania Street. Maybe they’re talking far down to the audience. Un-fair, un-balanced and un-educated.

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TV News Bunnies (male or female) reporting the “media is this and that and blah blah blah . . . .” The word media is plural. It is the plural form of medium which is singular. TV Bunnies should say the “news media are going into the crapper blah blah blah blah blah blah … .” But, hot dang, them bunnies looks and sounds good, doesn’t they?

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Newsroom typists who write: Working mothers are very unique because blah blah blah blah blah blah. The word unique is an absolute that cannot be modified. It’s like saying: A deceased person is very dead. You is dead or you isn’t. That’s a absolute.

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News copy in which the verb in a sentence don’t agree with the noun. Example: There’s (short form of there is; singular) many soldiers (plural) blah blah blah blah blah … .” Them newsroom budgets has been cut down so much they doesn’t allow for grammer (sic) correctin’ no more.

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TV News Rabbits (mature Bunnies) who report that starlet Mitzie Q. Bigbasooms is now dinging up-and-coming-coming Rockhard Richmond (formerly Cuthbert Dubchofsky) who left his wife Janeplane, and their three children, to starve in Backwash, Tennessee. Miss Mitzie Q, by the way, continues to assert through her publicist that her main talents are in fact naturally large and firm and they add considerably to her on-camera presence. This rubbish gets higher ratings than serious news reports of what politicians do with our tax money. Astonishing!

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Three of the major requirements of writing factual and complete news reports are polish, polish, polish. That means time, time and more time which translate eventually into money, money and more money. Newsroom staff and budget cuts mean less and less polish.

A news medium with any self-respect also has a copy desk at which experienced journalists cum copy editors polish the reports and their grammer (sic). Some news media owners, mostly broadcast, have no such respect or desk.

Another vital requirement is time to dig up the full story. Journalism is – or was – an activity of mostly making contacts. It was not typing. I’m told that nowadays, in most newsrooms, a journalist who is not typing is seen as not working. News consumers should be concerned.

(Comments added at the top as they occur to me.)