The Times, May 4, 2016

What on earth is this about? I presume it was a much longer story which someone decided to reduce to a short. It would have been better to spike it than turn it into gibberish like this.


The Times, May 4, 2017

It’s a charming image – a small furry rodent handing out leaflets. However the word should be the informal ‘gofer’, meaning someone who is asked to ‘go for’ things, or a dogsbody.

And from the same piece:

Oh dear. One of the all-time great cliches.


Paterson, of Altrincham, Greater Manchester, was granted bail and is due to be sentenced in May.

BBC News Online, April 28, 2017

Given that this is April, it should say ‘next month’, not ‘May’.


The Times, April 27, 2017

After reading the intro, the average reader will be thinking: ‘Why will his footballing career be finished if he is banned for 18 months? Oh, he must be getting on a bit. So how old is he?’ But you have to wait until the fifth par to learn that he is 34. You should not leave the reader asking questions. In this case, all that is needed is to say in the second par ‘the 34-year-old Burnley midfielder’.


The Times, April 26, 2017

I have seen this odd expression a few times lately. You can either ‘set foot’ on something, or ‘step’ on to it. ‘Step foot’ is gibberish.

I don’t think you can have an ‘amount’ of photographers. The right word is ‘number’.



i newspaper, April 25, 2017

(48 words) The obvious unanswered question here is why are they felling it? It took a few seconds to find the answer: because it is dead. And isn’t the George Washington line more interesting than ‘Workers have started . . . ‘ or indeed ‘Crews started the task’? You can take it as read that a tree will be felled by workers. This is how I would do it:

A 600-year-old tree under which George Washington had a picnic is being felled. The white oak next to Basking Ridge Presbyterian church in Bernards, New Jersey, was declared dead last year. A 25ft sapling from one of its acorns is growing nearby. (44 words)

The heading is pedestrian. How about:

Farewell to the
Washington oak



The Times, April 24, 2017

In headlines, ‘as’ is a much-used but rather weary and feeble word. This heading would be much better turned round thus:

Outsiders sweep to victory
in new French revolution


i newspaper, April 24, 2017

I think it looks odd to have a present tense caption with ‘last week’ or ‘yesterday’. You can easily get round it by making it ‘Theresa May firing the election starting gun last week’.


The Times, April 24, 2017

Yes, they certainly do say it, over and over again. This really is an unimaginative way to end a story. It is a pretty safe bet that if you find yourself writing ‘as they say’ you are about to repeat a cliche.