i newspaper, August 12, 2017

This is a truly pathetic headline. Obviously he was not ‘literally’ bowled over. You have to be very careful with the word or you can get silly images, such as ‘He literally exploded with anger’. This gives me the opportunity to revisit one of my favourite lines: ‘Welcoming him back, the family literally rolled out the fatted calf’.

Given that the club is called Philadelphia, I would put the geography higher up. I don’t see why it is even more amazing that his family were all over the place. I would make it clearer that the wickets were clean bowled, so that the father/umpire is not suspected of favouritism.

Here are a couple of suggestions for the heading:

Hat-trick at the double
Double hat-trick at 13

PS: If you insist on using ellipses, or three dots, there should be a full space at each end and half a space between them. They should not be jammed against a word like this.


i newspaper, August 12, 2017

(56 words) The apocryphal 1930s Times headline ‘Small earthquake in Chile. Not many dead’ is often quoted as the least significant heading ever written. I can’t believe someone has virtually reproduced it. The last thing you do is play down the drama and tell the reader the story is not worth reading.

This is how I would do it:

Quake forces
rush for safety

Office workers and students in the capital of the Philippines, Manila, were evacuated when their buildings were rocked by a strong earthquake yesterday. The tremor measured 6.3 on the Richter scale but there were no reports of casualties. Its epicentre was at a depth of 99 miles, and the deeper the quake the less risk of damage. (57 words)



i newspaper, August 11, 2017

If you are doing a story about a grammar or punctuation error, it’s a good idea to get your own version right. Although ‘plural’ names such as Dickens or Charles end in ‘s’, they are singular and therefore take an apostrophe and an extra ‘s’. So this should be ‘Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations’. In the intro, there is no reason to put ‘is reported to have cost’; the council has confirmed the sums involved.

As for the heading, why is the word ‘misplaced’ in quotes? Is there some dispute about it? And could there be two more boring words to include than ‘borough council’? I would suggest:

What the Dickens? Apostrophe error costs £1,200


i newspaper, August 11, 2017

(116 words) This is sloppy, with its misplaced word, three ‘afters’ and a ‘following’. ‘Told how’ should be avoided.You can’t call someone a ‘hero’ in quotes unless there is a quote to back it up. (Actually I am old-fashioned enough to prefer ‘heroine’ for a woman.) Was the nurse on the bus or passing by? (She was on it.) I would not put ‘south London’ in the intro, because readers without a connection to south London may move on to another story. I don’t think it makes the best of the drama either, even with the use of ‘desperately’.

This is how I would do it:

crash driver
‘blacked out’

The driver of a bus which ploughed into a parade of shops yesterday apparently blacked out at the wheel.

Ten people were injured in the crash during the morning rush hour in Battersea, south London.

Nurse Amy Mullineux, who was on the 77 double-decker, tried to give emergency treatment to trapped passengers and the driver.

‘He said he blacked out before the bus hit the shop,’ she said. ‘He doesn’t remember hitting anything. The paramedic told me they think he had some kind of fit.’

Ms Mullineux, 40, said she was forced to flee because of fears that the bus would burst into flames. (102 words)

Removing the repetitions makes it a few words shorter than the original but I dare say there was more copy.



The Times, August 11, 2017

So how tall is Mr Tankard? You need to know this to judge whether there is a real need for the couple to raise their roof by 5ft (2metres). The neighbours obviously don’t think there is. Mr Tankard should be asked to state his height and if he refuses to answer, then you say so.


i newspaper, August 7, 2017

What a strange piece this is. Die Rot Punkte is an Australian comedy duo called Clare Bartholomew and Daniel Tobias, who pretend to be German siblings. Yet this seems to treat them as genuine rock performers. Will every i reader know the act is a spoof? I doubt it. If you are doing a joke item you need to give more clues, otherwise the reader will simply be baffled. In any case, why is it so full of doubled words, misplaced apostrophes and mis-spelled words? Is this a joke too? It doesn’t amuse me much.


The Times, August 7, 2017

This would be fine, except that Djokovic announced on July 26 that he would not play again for the rest of the season because of an elbow injury. I imagine the TV listings are supplied by an agency but there is no excuse for this. Someone should be checking.


Sunday Times, August 6, 2017

This treats ‘marinade’ and ‘marinate’ as if they are interchangeable, which they are not. The ‘marinade’ (noun) is the liquid mixture in which you ‘marinate’ (verb) an item of food. So the first attempt, in the heading, is wrong: it should be ‘Marinated’ (verb). The second, in the intro, is right. The third, further down the intro, is  wrong and should be ‘marinate’. The fourth, in the recipe, is right.


The Times, August 5, 2017

You can’t mix imperial and metric measures in the same story. I expect the Times has a house style on which is preferred, and presumably this has not been followed. My guidance would be to choose one as your main measure and give the other in brackets, eg ‘the 33kg (55lb) concrete block’. Then be consistent in all your stories.


i newspaper, August 2, 2017

Nelson, Lancashire, has a population of around 30,000, roughly the same size as Oxford. The person who handled this must not have heard of Nelson, because he or she would have known that it is a town, not a village. In that case you look it up. You cannot rely on the writer to get everything right. That is what subs are for. If you can’t be bothered to check something which you do not know to be correct, you really should be doing something else.