Practicing Journalism

Several months ago, an Atlanta television anchorperson reported that a man had been shot to death… several times. I recently stated that only doctors and lawyers ‘practice’ their trades, which is good because when it comes to other areas of craftsmanship we’d prefer the workers have practiced on others and are providing their best work on our projects. Now I’ve come to realize I may have been mistaken; many folks who’ve graduated from college with Journalism degrees are also still practicing. But let’s be honest, so am I.

As I write these words, I feel it is déjà vu; I’m almost positive I wrote a similar article some time ago. I looked through my files, but couldn’t find it. I did find a compilation of ludicrous phrases I’ve been meaning to use. Perhaps I’ve written the article in my mind, but simply didn’t have enough examples to complete the story on paper.

Regardless, the other day I received an email forwarded by Sandy and Dick Kornewald. It contained numerous examples of poorly constructed sentences that had allegedly been used by newspaper editors. I tried to trace the message back to its origin, but have not heard back from anyone. Thus, I am unable to state the source of these examples. Of course, we could consider it an act of kindness to not identify the sources,

Without further ado, here are the examples that were contained in that email:

Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter

One has to wonder if this man was related to the man who was shot to death several times. They just keep getting back on their feet refusing to remain dead.

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says

Experts aren’t called experts for no reason.

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers

My son-in-law is a policeman. I know he gets really upset at reckless drivers and would love to get them all off the road, but I’ve never heard him voice any desire to get pedestrians off the road… for good.

Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over

That reminds me of a joke concerning a sheep herder. The punch line has something to do with sheep being liars.

Miners Refuse to Work after Death

There seems to be a common theme when it comes to men doing things after they’ve lost their lives.

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant

If he’s anything like those other guys, I’m not sure shooting him is the answer.

War Dims Hope for Peace

This sounds like something a politician might say. Of course, regardless of the cause of the outbreak of war, his or her opponent would be blamed for it.

If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile

Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures

Enfield (London) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide

I grouped the last three because there seems to be a common thread that gives me the urge to say, “Duh!”

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges

The person who wrote the original comments following these headlines was surprised that the construction crew found red tape to be stronger than duct tape.

Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge

I would think such action might constitute double jeopardy.

New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group

Another ‘fat’ joke. It reminds me of the church bulletin announcement asking the attendees of the Overeaters Anonymous meeting to use the double doors at the rear of the building.

Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft

If they’d put Bean-O in his Tang this wouldn’t have happened.

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks

According to some sources, W.C. Fields was once asked if he liked children. His reply was, “Yes, especially when they’re boiled.”

The email included three more. I’ll list them without further comment.

Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half

Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors

Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead

The subject line of the email asked the question, “Is proofreading a dying art?” In the case of the headlines we just saw, one would have to say it’s already dead. In the case of television newspersons, I think we can give them a little more leeway… but not much.

Someone in the ‘newsroom’ is furiously writing the copy for the on-air personalities to read. Unfortunately, some of the personalities don’t seem to pay the least bit of attention to the words they say. Sometimes you’ll see a reporter look at the teleprompter as if to say, “What in the world does that mean?” Then he or she will ad lib and try to make some sense out of it.

With a television newscast, time is a valuable commodity. To squeeze ten or twelve minutes of news into a half hour time slot – complimented by almost twenty minutes of commercials – the journalists can’t take a lot of time proofreading. And, in truth, you don’t want to give the talking heads too much time to make up their own words. There’s no telling what they might say.

My final example came from a weatherman. I believe he carries the title of “Chief Meteorologist”. One evening, he reported that several hundred lightning strikes had occurred in “just one hour of time.” Ever since, I’ve been trying to determine what else an hour is used to measure. Obviously, the man didn’t think he’d completed his thought or sentence and felt obliged to add another word or two.

Perhaps they (make that ‘we’) should all just keep practicing.


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