Monday, January 21, 2008

Vocabulary 101 For AP Reporters

I don't claim to be a journalist. It's unfortunate that so many others don't do the same. Mainly those over yonder at the AP. They seem to have lost sight of what it means to "report". "Report" should not be demonstrated as "state the obvious". And it really shouldn't be demonstrated by "we think we're stating the obvious, but we still got it wrong."

On Sunday, a couple of private planes collided in the air. What does the AP use as their headline? "Answers Sought At Plane Collision Site". I'd like to see that investigation. I'd like to see the investigators hovering hundreds of feet above the ground looking for their answers. The planes didn't collide on the ground. They fell on the ground. They collided in the air. That headline should read "Answers Sought At Plane Wreckage Site." Below that it should read, "Journalists Wanted" because this article gets worse.

"Authorities were trying Monday to learn why two small planes collided over a row of businesses, dropping a macabre shower of debris and body parts and killing someone inside an auto dealership when one of the aircraft punctured the roof." That opening sentence makes it sound like the planes had planned to cause the chaos that they did. Like there was some big Cessna conspiracy afoot. Er, awing.

"Witnesses told authorities that one of the planes slammed into the other." Good thing there were witnesses there, eh? How would we ever determine that if people hadn't seen it? And good job, AP, for getting statements from those geniuses. Yeah, without that, readers across the wire would have been totally befuddled as they struggled to comprehend the basic principles of "a collision".

"All four people aboard the two aircraft also were killed in Sunday's crash, on a clear crisp afternoon that seemed ideal for flying. " Well, I'm sure the afternoon was ideal for flying. The flying wasn't really so much the issue here as was the colliding and crashing. But I guess it's never really an ideal afternoon for that.

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