Sunday, March 18, 2018

We're no angels

Spare a kind thought for our little friends in the party press. When their president speaks, they listen -- but what do you even do with a clause like "Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy"? Do you read the first part in your Sam Elliott voice and the second as Marlowe? Let's see how it looked as the lead story Saturday afternoon at Fox:
Well, not exactly. How do you think it looked when you clicked through?

That's not much better at all, is it? Though at least we appear to have actually read our own lede:

President Trump called Andrew McCabe a 'choirboy' as he lauded the former acting FBI Director's firing, suggesting multiple federal reports show “corruption at the highest level.”

OK, double quotes in text, please, and the comma goes inside the quotes in the hed, but no. The president didn't call Mr. McCabe either of those things. Both are plausible insults:

McCabe, you're a choirboy!
McCabe, you're no choirboy!

... but (aside from being, you know, completely opposite) they're not what he was talking about. He was talking about James Comey, not McCabe. And you'd like to think that, even at Fox, there might be enough native speakers to figure that out.

 Don't spend too much time thinking nice thoughts about Fox; they've chosen to serve their orange monkey-king, and if that doesn't work out, plenty of coal and steel jobs will no doubt be waiting. (The same can't be said of grownup journalism.) But surely we can all understand that brief moment of panic at the arrival of the midnight tweet. You can see why it took until the following day to figure things out.

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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Oh my what?

Common cold cured, Fractious Near East at peace -- OK, we can see why the 1A centerpiece* is about somebody selling a house.** But that still can't justify the Forbidden Hed over the photo. Kids, if you must -- and you mustn't -- use a hed of the form "[noun] [noun] and [noun], oh my," at least make sure it scans.

One more thing? If this is indeed the case:

You could count the statuary five times and get a different result each time — 60 statues? 70? 80? The garage is like an auto museum.

 ... two possibilities come to mind:

1) You didn't do very well in school, or
2) Don't blink. DON'T EVEN BLINK.

* Well, to be fair, the Andrew McCabe thingy is the top brief on 6A.
** This line could be what put it over the top: "Photos of the home made the rounds on Facebook the last couple of days"

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Today in attribution

Imagine -- oh, come on, just go ahead and close your eyes and imagine -- a world in which a reporter* could explain what pi meant without having to quote the website.

You can even leave out the worlds in which people still consulted stylebooks on how to render dates, or in which commas knew their place, though I'd appreciate some word from overseas on how Pi Day is celebrated in those "worldwide" places where March 14 is 14/3.

* Your Editor was there on a fine day some 25 years ago when a page designer (from NC State, no less) caught a Star Reporter leaving pretty much all the zeroes out of Avogadro's number.

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Saturday, March 10, 2018

Hed of the (still-young) month

Dear Washington Post: What was he supposed to fill it with?

Why it's a "fighting speech" for the inside hed, and the introductory quote fragment in the html is "the-tide-of-history-is-with-us" (but the speech remains "rhetoric-filled"), is beyond me. To the general sentiment, though: Sure, happy to oblige.

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Kids these days

Everyone's a little different when it comes to getting those pesky large numbers into headlines. You can be extra-formal and insist on the zeroes, or you can guess that your audience can figure out B for "billion" and T for "trillion." You can use M for "million," unless the greisly voice of your first editing teacher is shouting from beyond the grave that M really means "thousand," for which you can't use T (above), so you probably fall back on K.

G for thousand is a little more tabloid (in the spinning-front-page-indicates-passage-of-time sense), partly because it's tightly restricted. It doesn't mean "thousand," it means "thousand dollars" (or pounds, for which the OED has a cite from 1958). So somebody at Fox reached one shelf too far for the hed above, but you have to admit it has sort of a grapefruit-in-the-face charm to it.

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Monday, February 05, 2018

A terrible beauty is born

Let the record show that on this date, 5th inst., in the year of our Lord the two thousand and eighteenth, has published its first house-brand editorial cartoon to illustrate a frontpage story. (At least, the first that I recall seeing, and I try to keep up with these things.)

The story itself is hardly a surprise:

Once upon a time, former intel chiefs employed a restrained and nonpartisan tone in the public eye. Now, they're diving right into the mud of today's rancorous political fights.

And the current battle between law enforcement circles and congressional Republicans over the controversial memo on alleged surveillance abuse has pulled Obama-era spy guys even deeper into the brawl.
... but the cartoon is an unusual treat. No details in the story or on the website beyond the "Branco" signature, which along with the tone and style suggests the cartoonist A.F. Branco.

The 1A cartoon itself, of course, isn't new; it's hard to miss if you keep up with isolationism, exceptionalism and the old-school Tribune. Here, indeed, is the Trib's Carey Orr from this date 70 years ago, longing for some "party discipline":
As a field of study, you have to admit it beats the heck out of Photoshop.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

'We' is not amused

Pronouns: How can you miss 'em if they won't go away? The vermin press shows how it's done:

President Trump placed the emphasis on “we” over “I” in his first State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

A review of the president’s prepared remarks by The Daily Caller reveals he used the word “we” more than four times as many times as he said the word “I.”

President Trump used the word “I” 29 times in his speech, while using “we” 129 times. Another communal word used often by the president: “our,” which he used 104 times.

“As long as we are proud of who we are, and what we are fighting for, there is nothing we cannot achieve,” Trump said near the end of his speech. “As long as we have confidence in our values, faith in our citizens, and trust in our God, we will not fail.” (RELATED: Obama Mentions Himself 45 Times During Memorial Speech For Dallas Police Officers)

“As long as we have confidence in our values, faith in our citizens, and trust in our God, we will not fail. Our families will thrive. Our people will prosper. And our Nation will forever be safe and strong and proud and mighty and free.” 

You don't even really need the link to get the point, do you? No pronoun was safe in the hands of the Kenyan usurper: "Someone is going to say, 'Am I the only one* who thinks that Obama likes the sound of his own voice?'" Fortunately, there's a new sheriff in town, and he are not amused.

The experts -- we could say "the coastal eee-lites," but that'd be piling on -- have traditionally spread the bizarre pseudo-sociolinguistic fictions about the meaning(s) of presidential pronoun frequency (Language Log's catalog can be found here). True to form, the impact has already been felt over at the National Review:

Trump’s publicly well-received speech (we hope the Obama first-person singular continues to give way to the Trump first-person plural) did not register with his enemies, mostly progressives but some Never Trumpers as well.

But what if Trump follows up on his speech by letting his successful policies speak for themselves, even as his critics are permanently stuck in the past obsessing on the shadows of Trump — oblivious to his record and brawling against a style and comportment that could be increasingly dissipating?

After watching the Democratic and celebrity boilerplate reaction to Trump’s speech, and the Kennedy response, a person from Mars might conclude that Trump was sober and judicious in reviewing a tangible record, while his critics were emotional and petulant while ignoring definable reality to focus on nebulous symbolism.

I've never been one to suggest that our first contact with the Martians -- "person" or otherwise -- should carry the assumption that they plan to wipe the galaxy with us, but doesn't it seem a little rude to think they'd all act like Daily Caller readers?

* No. You're not even the only white one, moron.

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