i newspaper, March 24, 2017

(52 words) Even shorts like this can convey plenty of information. The obvious questions on being told that the couple are expecting a second child are ‘How old is the first child and is it a boy or a girl?’ The quote about being happy is not necessary. The surprise would be if they issued a statement saying they were not happy. And ‘the birth is expected for September’  sounds like a poor translation from the Swedish. It is certainly not English.

This is how I would have done it:

Sweden’s Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia are expecting their second child in September. The couple have a son, Alexander, who will be one year old next month. The 37-year-old prince, son of King Carl XVI Gustaf [no need to say ‘Sweden’s’ – it is obvious] and fifth in line to the throne, married the former reality TV star Sofia Hellqvist in 2015. (56 words)





i newspaper, March 23, 2017

The heading has Channel 4 as a plural entity (‘identify’) but the copy has it as a singular one (‘was’ and ‘its’). Companies and organisations can often be singular or plural, but you have to settle on one and be consistent within the story.


i newspaper, March 23, 2017

The expressions ‘wheelchair-bound’ and ‘confined to a wheelchair’ cause great offence to the disability lobby and should never be used. Here the i newspaper has managed to use one in a Page 2 write-off and the other in the main story on Page 17. Acceptable phrases include ‘wheelchair user’ and ‘who uses a wheelchair’. This link gives a wheelchair user’s view:



Daily Telegraph, March 22, 2017

Surely it goes without saying that the parents were dead? Let’s hope so. Every word in a story should be considered to decide whether it is necessary.

I think a better heading would be ‘Cliff fall twins . . .’ It is a better shape and somehow a little more tasteful.

Incidentally it is usual practice to give the name of the court where an inquest or any other case is held. (It was Maidstone.) The story should also say where the victims came from. (The Burgess twins came from Elton, Cheshire, and Mr Enion from Radcliffe, Greater Manchester.)


The Times, March 21, 2017

‘After’ does not mean ‘at the same time’. The implication of this piece is that Richard Hammond crashed his bike then someone came along and hit him over the head, and that the same thing happened after his previous accident with the rocket car.

Apart from that, the word ‘after’ is used four times in a very short story and heading.

This how I would do it:

Richard Hammond was knocked unconscious when he fell off a motorbike while filming The Grand Tour in Africa.

The 47-year-old TV presenter [note: not the TV presenter, 47, which is clumsy] suffered a brain injury 11 years ago [I think this is better than 2006 because the reader does not need to calculate how long ago it was] when a rocket car he was driving for Top Gear crashed at 288mph.

The latest accident happened in Mozambique, where Hammond was filming on location with Jeremy Clarkson and James May for their new series on Amazon Prime.

Yesterday [I don’t see any need for a comma] he told his fans he was fine.





Mr and Mrs Hallett, or The morning walk by Thomas Gainsborough

For more than 50 years their image has hung unmolested on the walls of the National Gallery, alongside well known and well loved works by such titans of British art as Stubbs, Hogarth, Reynolds, Turner and Wright.

On Saturday, however, Thomas Gainsborough’s portrait of William Hallet and Elizabeth Stephens, The Morning Walk, came under attack from a man armed with a screwdriver.

Staff and gallery-goers rushed to detail the man, who was restrained until members of the police arrived at the scene in Room 34 on the second floor of the museum.

Telegraph website, March 19, 2017

This is lamentable. Yet another dreadful intro on a good story. The lengthy list of painters looks like nothing but an attempt to show off (‘Name as many British artists as you can in 30 seconds’). What does it matter how long the picture has been in the National Gallery? ‘Unmolested’?! ‘Titans’ is a joke word.

All that is needed is a straight intro:

A man has been arrested after one of the National Gallery’s best-known masterpieces was slashed with a screwdriver.

In the second paragraph, Mr Hallett’s name is mis-spelled. In the third, I presume ‘detail’ should be ‘detain’. Frankly, such carelessness suggests contempt for the reader. And ‘members of the police’ is a very odd way of saying ‘police’. I despair.


Daily Express, March 17, 2017

Two examples in one piece of dashes where commas would be better. To quote from Style Matters:

dash: Use sparingly. They hold up the sentence and make the copy look ‘spotty’. In most cases they can be replaced by commas, or even deleted. They should be used only for a surprising twist to a sentence, such as ‘Jason Bugby is three months old – but he is already a member of Mensa’, or to enclose something which does not fit into the main subject matter of the sentence, such as ‘Despite spending so much time abroad – last year he was in England for only two months – Lord Freeman maintains a fully staffed house in Hertfordshire’. 

I would have done the second paragraph thus:

So it is fitting that the programme is to return after a 14-year break with another Liverpudlian, her great friend Paul O’Grady, hosting it. [I have dropped the comma after ‘break’ because it is not necessary.]

In the last par I would simply replace the dashes with commas.

Incidentally the caption would be better with a colon instead of three dots (ellipses). If you really must use ellipses, there should be a full space at each end and half spaces in between the dots.


Daily Express, March 17, 2017

Why ‘but’? It makes it sound as if it is surprising that Mary Berry is much loved. Obviously she has departed (not a word I would use anyway, with its connotations of ‘dear departed’) or there would be no need to replace her. How much better and simpler it would be to put ‘will replace the much-loved Mary Berry’.