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News Annoyances

November 3, 2013

These are a couple of small things that annoy me when they appear in a news item, on the web, in printed media, or on the radio.  One such form that I’ve noticed regularly is articles that describe something that hasn’t happened yet.  The infinitive is rampant: to try, to lead, to introduct, to expect, to quiz.  They tell us about something that is about to happen.  I call them speculation, as soon as I see or hear them.  Often they are about what  an official will be saying later.  When the event actually happens, there might be a small article or nothing at all.  That’s when I’d expect to see news.

I wonder if they produce speculation as news as a way to get a jump on the competition.  Maybe it comes from a news release that contains all of the information that will announced later.  Here are some examples of headlines that I noticed on the web in the course of a single day:

  • Coast Guard to try retrieving sunken Arctic helicopter
  • John Baird to lead UN session on kids forced into marriage
  • Samsung to introduce phone with curved screen
  • Microsoft’s Surface 2 launch: What to expect
  • Kenya’s Westgate siege: MPs to quiz security chiefs

Another thing that annoys me is worthless pictures that accompany a story.  What’s a worthless picture?  Let me give you an example.  There was a story about a zoo worker injured by a gorilla.  Along side was a picture of a gorilla.  It wasn’t the animal involved in the incident, but just a stock picture of a gorilla.  When I saw that, I said to myself “there’s one now”.  That’s a worthless picture.  We’ve all heard that one picture is worth a thousand words, but this particular one wasn’t.  I learned a long time ago that pictures that aren’t worth their thousand words should be discarded.  I suspect it was only used to liven up a dull story because the writer didn’t have more appropriate pictures.  In that case, I’d prefer the story without any pictures.

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