i newspaper, May 21, 2018

It would be reasonable to put ‘people’ if there were the faintest possibility that readers might think you were talking about the mental health of giraffes or fleas, but not when it is obvious that you are referring to human beings. Delete it.


i newspaper, May 21, 2018

As I remarked a few days ago (#407) it is clumsy to mix present tense with an event in the past, and it is not necessary. There is no law that captions must be in present tense, and this would read better simply by changing ‘provides’ to ‘provided’.

In 33 words you should avoid repetition, in this case ‘expected’. You could replace the first one with ‘forecast’.


i newspaper, May 18, 2018

I can’t believe anyone over the age of eight, let alone someone who is presumably being paid to work on a newspaper, does not know what ‘extinct’ means. This is like saying someone is recovering from death. Cretinous.


i newspaper, May 16, 2018

(54 words) ‘People’ must be one of the most used words in the media, yet unless told otherwise you can assume any story is about human beings, not giraffes or cockroaches. It is much better to come up with a more focused word, in this case ‘walkers’, perhaps, or ‘ramblers’. If you are talking about a number of people, you can often do without the word altogether, for example ‘The hurricane, which killed 200 in Haiti, made landfall in the US at Miami’.

I don’t like captions which mix the present tense (‘walk’) with the past (‘yesterday’). Often you can get round that by using the continuous ‘walking’, which here would be ‘People walking up the Seven Sisters cliffs yesterday . . . ‘

The south coast is long. How about saying ‘East Sussex’?

Temperatures did not reach the mid-twenties ‘across the country’. Here in Lancashire the maximum was 18 or 19. (It is a constant irritation that newspapers talk about heatwaves and cold spells according to the weather outside their London offices. There is a lot more of the country.)

‘Things’ and ‘set to’ are both awful.

Here is a better way of doing it, which avoids repeating ‘temperature’:

Temperatures reaching the mid-twenties drew walkers to the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs in East Sussex yesterday. It was expected to be less warm today, but the forecast is for a steady climb from the weekend ahead of a glorious bank holiday at the end of the month. (47 words)




Daily Express, May 11, 2018

If you are going to use a stock phrase (which is one step down from a cliche), at least get it right. You can ‘call time’ or you can ‘blow the final whistle’. I’m afraid that ‘blowing time’ has unfortunate connotations which are unsuitable for a family website.


The Times, May 12, 2018

This caption says: The Duke of Edinburgh, 96, was seen in public with the Queen for the first time since his hip operation last month at the 75th Royal Windsor Horse Show (29 words)

It reads as if the duke had his operation at the horse show. You could get round this by doing it thus:

In his first public appearance since his hip operation last month, the Duke of Edinburgh, 96, visited the 75th Royal Windsor Horse show with the Queen yesterday (27 words)

which gets in ‘yesterday’.

The same problem often occurs with court reports, for example: ‘Smith was jailed for five years at Blackfriars Crown Court.’ Just turn it round: ‘At Blackfriars Crown Court, Smith was jailed for five years.’




Daily Express, May 7, 2018

‘Bonanza’ means a large amount of something good, for example ‘a bonanza year for kale growers’. It cannot possibly apply to a lot of blisters, except perhaps for the sticking plaster industry.

Daily Express, May 7, 2018

If you have joint third in a ranking list, those two count as third and fourth places, so the next one is fifth.



The Times, May 4, 2018

Here is another intro where the word ‘but’ has been completely misunderstood. It means that something unexpected follows. The intro just won’t work in this form. You could try something like this:

After the installation of 15,000 panes of glass and the assembly of 69,000 components, the Temperate House at Kew reopened last night.

or this:

After a five-year restoration costing £42million, the Temperate House  . . .

I would say ‘conservation architects Donald Insall Associates, who will  oversee . . .’ not ‘which’. It is a group of people, not things.

In the context of Kew, a ‘biomass plant’ sounds like one of the residents, not machinery. To make it clear it should say a ‘biomass power plant’. And what is ‘cathodic protection’? I would bet good money the sub didn’t know.  I looked it up and it is very technical. If you don’t know what something is, or can’t explain it, leave it out.






Stormy Daniels case: Trump denies campaign funds paid off porn actor

BBC News Online, May 3, 2018

‘Actor’ is being used more and more instead of the traditional ‘actress’, and a lot of people detest it. So do some performers, but many others prefer it. This article from The Stage gives both points of view (warning of bad language):


I would always use ‘actress’ – in fact, is it not ‘patriarchal’ to opt for the masculine version? Why not call both men and women ‘actresses’? – but you need to make your own decision.




i newspaper, May 2, 2018

Given the choice, would you put ‘singer’ or ‘George Michael’ in the heading?

This is what I would have done:

George Michael shrines to be taken down

‘The late George Michael’? Would you put the story in the paper if you thought readers did not know he was dead? You need ‘late’ only when someone has recently died, and there is a possibility that not everyone knows, as in ‘The seat was held by the late Fred Smith’, or when the people in a story are not well known, as in ‘Mr Brown took over the farm from his late father’.

Three quotation marks is excessive.

‘Up until’ is ignorant. You could say ‘until’ or ‘up to’.