The i newspaper, September 14, 2018

What I found in ten minutes reading the i today:

‘Easier’ is an adjective (the comparative of easy) and you would use it with a noun, for example ‘he chose the easier path’. For a verb (‘comes away’) you need an adverb, and this would be ‘more easily’ (the comparative of easily).  The sub managed to get ‘avocado’ right three times but on the fourth occasion decided on ‘advocado’. Incidentally a different version of the same story appeared on another page.


Even a goldfish would remember after 11 words that it had already used ‘artist’. A person cannot be ‘valuable’. Auction items do not have a ‘price tag’; they have ‘estimates’.

I would have done it something like this:


A painting by David Hockney could become the most expensive work by a living artist to be sold at auction.

‘Bate’ is the word you would use for holding your breath. The word for teasing or ridiculing is ‘baiting’.

All turtles are ‘hatched’ so there is no point in using the word. It is like saying ‘Half of born humans’. I suppose they thought ‘baby’ was too short a word, or (I would be surprised if this were the case) they did not want to repeat a word from the intro, but ‘young’ would have served perfectly well.

The word needed here is ‘poring’. ‘Pouring’ is for liquids or scorn.

How quickly they forget – it’s only a week or so since this poor lady died and already her name is being mis-spelled. It was Rachael.

That is ten minutes of reading. If I were the editor of the i I would be shocked, and I would seriously consider removing the word ‘quality’ from the front page.





Bad caption day at the Times

September 12, 2018

This is a good example of the unnecessary use of the word ‘local’. It is quite obviously a ‘local’ resident’s handiwork, not that of a resident from 200 miles away.

Animals are ‘born to’ mothers; they are ‘sired by’ fathers.

It is clear that the couple on the left are the Cochrans, but we have one more name and two photographs. Are they both of Mr Rhodes? If so, in which is he looking over his shoulder? If not, which one is Mr Rhodes and who is the other man?

I look forward to the Times correction: ‘We inadvertently confused Mr Tariq Javid with a building.’



i newspaper, September 12, 2018

There cannot be many people on the planet who do not know that the retired tennis player is Billie Jean, not Billy Jean.

There are  two ways this could have happened. One, the writer got it wrong, in which case the sub should have thought ‘Hmm, Billy is a funny way for a woman to spell her name, I’d better check it.’ Or the writer got it right, and the sub changed it. Either way it is pathetically poor.




i newspaper, September 4, 2018 – the start of the p5 lead . . .

. . . and the end

Here is a good way to make a story fit the space – simply chop off the beginning and end and dump the rest in the hole.

I find it incredible, and sad, that a national newspaper which dares to call itself ‘quality’ can allow such a poor standard of workmanship. Every page must be read before it is published.



i newspaper, September 4, 2018

While it is good practice to give the reader information in a caption, you must give him or her credit for a bit of intelligence. You really do not need to point out which boxer is landing the punch.




Drugs, weapons and mobile phones are among the items snuck into jails, says the Observer.

BBC News Online, September 2, 2018

‘Snuck’ is an American way of saying ‘sneaked’ and I find it a very ugly word.  In any case I think it exists only in the active voice, eg ‘the man snuck into the garage’, not the passive voice which is used here. Really, ‘snuck’ should be avoided in every possible circumstance.

This is my entry on active and passive voices from Style Matters:

The active voice is for someone or something doing something. The passive voice is for something being done to someone or something. For example, ‘he shears/sheared the sheep’, but ‘the sheep was shorn’; ‘he mows/mowed the lawn’, but ‘the lawn has been mown’; ‘the torpedo sank the ship’, but ‘the ship was sunk by a torpedo’. It is a common error to say ‘the torpedo sunk the ship’.