Look after your shorts

All too often shorts seem to be flung in to fill a hole, but they can be a lot more interesting than some of the other worthy stuff in a paper, and they deserve handling with thought and care. All these examples come from Page 2 of the i newspaper, September 18, 2017.

(41 words) I guessed the ‘Arnie’ referred to here was Schwarzenegger, and I was right. However readers should not have to guess or assume. On the other hand, there can be too much spelling out – you don’t need to say that a bodybuilding contest has been won by a bodybuilder. The heading should not be a short version of the first sentence. I would suggest doing it like this:

Welshman muscles
in on Arnie’s record

A businessman from Wales has matched Arnold Schwarzenegger’s record by winning a sixth consecutive title at the Mr Olympia bodybuilding contest in Las Vegas. A native of Llanelli, James ‘Flex’ Lewis, 33, is a celebrity in the US where he now lives. (42 words)

(40 words) Another assumption – that by calling the lady a ‘fiancee’, we will guess what her answer was. You need to spell it out for the drama. I was puzzled how an ‘agricultural worker’ could also be an engineer. Turns out he is an agricultural engineer.

This would be my effort:

Agricultural engineer Tom Plume, 39, surprised his girlfriend of ten years by ploughing ‘Marry me’ into a field at her family farm in East Anstey, Devon. ‘Astounded but ecstatic’ Jenna Stimpson, 37, accepted and the couple plan to wed next year. (41 words)

(47 words) As it stands, this story is nonsense. It ends with the ban in force, so how can it be ‘reinstated’? It misses out the fact that the ban was overturned in 2015.

This is how I would tackle it:

Animal rights activists are celebrating because California’s ban on foie gras is back on the table. The force-feeding of birds was originally forbidden in 2004 but the ruling was overturned in 2015 when producers of foie gras filed a suit against it. It was reinstated by an appeal court yesterday. (50 words)

Yet again, some unfortunates get through a perilous situation unscathed only for something else to happen and injure them. For the nth time, ‘AFTER’ DOES NOT MEAN ‘AT THE SAME TIME’.


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