Headline writing: when to fall asleep. That’s tip I’d like to write about after reading this on the Yahoo! front page:
To be a successful writer/journalist/editor, don’t fall asleep before you finish writing.
The writer of this headline on Yahoo! Politics either attended the e.e. cummings school of journalism or is using a keyboard with a broken Shift key:
Using lowercase letters for proper nouns like Planned Parenthood and Washington is the sort of thing you’d expect from a tween who thinks it’s cool to buck convention. It’s not what you’d expect from a website trying to gain respectability.
Go figure! Won’t you know that the editor/writer/whoever who writes for Yahoo! Celebrity doesn’t know the difference between a figurine (which is a small statuette) and a figure (which isn’t):
But wait! That’s not the only goof here. That sentence is complete idiocy: It claims that someone seeing Ms. Mirren meet the “figurines” will be giving one of Ms. Mirren’s greatest performances. Huh?
English is funny. And challenging. It provides lots of words for lots of circumstances. But it’s also missing a few words that would be of benefit to writers and readers. One of those missing words is a possessive form of the word that. (Make that two missing words; which doesn’t have a possessive form either.) But that didn’t stop the writer for Yahoo! Autos from trying to come up with one — and failing:
The writer might have used whose: a car whose value is beginning to soar. But that might have set off alarm bells among grammarians who feel who and whose cannot be applied to non-humans. What’s a writer to do? Recast the sentence. One of these might have worked:
Each of those options is slightly longer, slightly different in meaning, or slightly awkward. But none of those would have appeared in Terribly Write.
Professional writers have to carry around a lot of knowledge. They need to know grammar, spelling, English, and maybe something about the subject of their writing. At least that’s what I thought until I started reading Yahoo! Style. As it turns out, you don’t need to know much to be a paid professional there. You can drop words from sentences:
You can display an ignorance of your subject matter. (The handbag style known as a saddle bag was not inspired by a saddle. It was inspired by a little something called a saddle bag — which attaches to a saddle.) You certainly don’t need to know how to spell giddyup, which is an interjection used here as a verb. And you don’t need to provide details like the number of bags in the world. Personally I think that last sentence should include “only one billion trillion of each.”
Readers of this caption on Yahoo! Style might expect that it goes with an X-rated (or maybe just a PG-13-rated) photo:
Sorry to disappoint. You should know by now to never trust anything that’s written by a Yahoo! scribe. Here’s the picture of our Ms. Brooks who appears to be wearing a cap, shorts, and footwear. And a sports bra: