Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Make it easier for the reader

HEAD GAMES: I just found a story that puzzled me when I looked at the New York Times' directory of sports stories.

Longtime Princeton Coach Tierney Takes Over Denver Program

Bill Tierney was announced as the Denver Pioneers’ new coach after 22 years, 6 national championships and 14 Ivy League titles with Princeton.

So the coach has six national titles and 14 Ivy League titles. What sport? It's not basketball. Is it soccer? Volleyball?

No, it's lacrosse. The NY Times editors could have made it simpler for the reader by saying 6 national lacrosse championships. They didn't do that because they assumed that New York-area sports fans would know who Tierney is.

Maybe, but I doubt it. Lacrosse is a relatively small sport, and, personally, I can't name one big-name person in the sport. Other than Tierney, whom I just 'met.'

OXYMORONS: I love oxymorons, two-word combinations that automatically belie their implied meaning. ‘Pretty ugly,’ ‘airline food’ and ‘military intelligence’ all quickly come to mind.

I just found a wealth of oxymorons at The best may be 'mercy killing.' Killing doesn't seem too awfully merciful. 'Jumbo shrimp'? Jumbo means large, and shrimp means the opposite.

'Major General' is another favorite. He's not a major; he's a general, sort of.

BAD HEADS: I also like bad headlines, and 'Antique Stripper to Display Wares at Store' certainly qualifies. An Antique Stripper is either a person who strips the paint off old furniture or an aging person with no clothes. 'To Display Wares' just makes the vision/nightmare complete.

GOOD HEADLINE: Apparently this was found in a church bulletin — 'PENSIONERS WED - Fifty years of friendship ends at altar.'

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1 comment:

  1. I've always found it annoying that sports articles rarely mention the sport. It makes it very hard to search, for example, the NY Times archives for baseball stories because the word "baseball" doesn't appear in them.

    (Found your blog through a LinkedIn group.)