i newspaper, January 31, 2024

This seems to be more often wrong than right. The palate is the roof of the mouth or personal sense of taste; a palette is what an artist uses or a set of colours; a pallet is what goods are stacked on.


i newspaper, January 23, 2024

(53 words) The first thing you want to know about the oldest living animal in the world is its age. This story makes you work it out for yourself – the reader should not have to do mental arithmetic. I would have put the tortoise at the beginning rather than the end, and I would also say what species it is. If it is ‘thought’ to have been hatched in 1832 (and full marks for using the correct term rather than  the usual ‘born’) , can we be sure it is the record-holder?

This is how I would have done it:

Jonathan the ancient
tortoise takes a bow

THE Duke of Edinburgh is due to meet a 191-year-old tortoise which is believed to be the oldest living land animal in the world when he visits the remote British Overseas Territory of St Helena in the South Atlantic this week. Jonathan the Seychelles tortoise is thought to have hatched in 1832. (52 words)


The Times, January 17, 2024

Neuralgia is a medical term for pain arising from a nerve or nerves. It is certainly not the word wanted in this subdeck. I honestly can’t think what  word they were striving for. Neurosis, perhaps? Anyway, it strikes me as incredible that no senior person spotted this bit of idiocy.


i newspaper, January 6, 2024

I think the ghastly ‘uptick’ has come from social media where it indicates approval, but it is not a synonym for ‘increase’ or ‘surge’. Note that ‘surge’ does not need the prefix ‘up’. That would be necessary if you wanted to distinguish it from a ‘downsurge’ but obviously there is no such thing.


i newspaper, January 6, 2024

Licence the noun and license the verb are often confused. My way of remembering is that the ‘c’ in licence and the ‘n’ in noun are in alphabetical order, and so are the ‘s’ in license and the ‘v’ in verb. I expect there are lots of better mnemonics.


i newspaper, January 4, 2024

(26 words) I can’t believe that subs are still using this refrain from a 1970s advert. Surely it is time to let the poor old thing rest in peace after 50 years. It wasn’t funny even at the time, and what can it possibly mean to younger readers?

Filling out a line with ellipses is amateur and I can’t see any need for it here.

Do you need ZSL (Zoological Society of London)? I don’t see why. London Zoo is perfectly adequate. If you know there are 14,000 animals, why do you need to count them? And ‘every one’ is singular so it should be ‘is counted’, not ‘are counted’.

In 26 words I would prefer not to see ‘count’ twice and ‘zoo’ three times.

This is how I would have done it (as it was a picture story showing half a dozen penguins I don’t think it is vital to use the word in the heading):

All present
and correct

IT’S time for the annual stocktake of London Zoo’s 14,000 or so residents, and keeper Jess counts the Humboldt penguins, which are native to South America. (26 words)


The Times, December 28, 2023

Unless you are told otherwise, you can assume that stories are about human beings, or ‘people’. You do not need to keep reminding your readers. In this story the first ‘people’ is fine as we don’t know whether the injured were male or female.  The second is unnecessary: ‘a crowd’ is obviously composed of people.  The third and fourth are part of a section which is more or less a repeat of the intro.

The use of the tense ‘has died’ is odd as it suggests that the man died later, when the story says he was dead at the scene. There is no clue as to what day the incident happened (it should say ‘yesterday’). And as usual the writer believes that ‘after’ and ‘when’ are synonyms. As it reads, the car hit the crowd and at some later time (‘after’) they were injured.

The main fault with the intro and the heading is that they leave out the murder aspect. There are many fatal road accidents, not so many when the action is considered to be deliberate. If I had been subbing this I would have done this heading and intro (note correct use of ‘when’ and ‘after’, and information about when it happened):

Murder arrest after man
dies when car hits crowd

A MAN was arrested on suspicion of murder after a car ploughed into a crowd, killing a man and injuring seven other people, in Sheffield yesterday afternoon.




The Times, unknown date 2023

I saved this but my scanner wasn’t working. Anyway this is an example of how not to mix imperial and metric measures. I would use imperial with metric in brackets, others would prefer it the other way round, but you really must be consistent.