Good, Bad, and Ugly

Reader reaction to Reuters news

Giffords headline


Giffords’ brain benefits from benign route of bullet

USA-SHOOTING/CONGRESSWOMANTUCSON, Ariz, Jan 9 (Reuters) – U.S. congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords suffered what her doctors on Sunday called a “devastating wound” to her brain in a point-blank shooting, but the bullet’s relatively benign trajectory bodes well for her recovery.

“Giffords’ brain benefits from benign route of bullet” — so she should be happy?!

To “benefit” is to make something better. For something to be “benign” means it’s at least harmless, if not good.

Try “Giffords’ brain damage could have been worse”.


U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in an undated handout photo provided by her Congressional office in Washington, January 8, 2011. REUTERS/Office of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords/Handout

Mystery plane?


Mystery plane prompts Capitol evacuation, scramble of jets

USA-TAXES/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A mystery airplane prompted an evacuation of the Capitol building and scrambling of military fighter jets on Saturday but authorities said the false alarm was caused by a commercial airliner briefly losing radio contact.

A Federal Aviation Administration official said a Piedmont Airlines plane in the Washington, D.C. area briefly lost radio contact and military planes took off to find it.

I’ll have a nice big stake, please…


Microsoft’s Ballmer sells 12 percent stake in company

gbu ballmer 280SEATTLE (Reuters) – Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Steve Ballmer sold $1.3 billion worth of shares in the company, cutting his stake by about 12 percent, but said his first stock sale in seven years should not be taken as a lack of confidence in the world’s largest software firm.

Your headline says Ballmer sold a “12 percent stake in Microsoft,” which would mean he sold 12 percent of the company’s stock.

What kind of cargo ship?


Dutch cargo ship and ferry collide in busy canal

NETHERLANDS/COLLISIONAMSTERDAM (Reuters) – A small passenger ferry capsized on Friday after colliding with a German cargo ship in a busy Dutch shipping canal and the ferry captain went missing.

You might want to reword your headline. It appears to be a GERMAN cargo ship, not a Dutch one.

No wheeze, please…


German “heatball” wheeze outwits EU light bulb ban

EU-ENERGY/LIGHT-BULBSI realize that the level of English competency has fallen dramatically during this day and age, but unless the German in question has a serious case of the flu, I assume you meant to use the word “Whiz” in your headline.

When a news outlet such as “Reuters” makes such basic spelling errors in its headlines, and it remains unnoticed for this long, what is the English-speaking world coming to, in terms of education!!

A healthy change in the language?


PepsiCo trims forecast, bets on healthier food

PEPSICO/EDITORS: Foods are more nutritious or more healthful.

They are not “healthier,” unless they are more robust, in good health.

A Careful Reader

You have my sympathy.

That same distinction was drilled into me long ago, too. I was taught that people are healthy, foods are healthful.

Not a great headline


Ex-maid claims Whitman knew she in U.S. illegally

CALIFORNIA-POLITICS/LOS ANGELES, Sept 29 (Reuters) – A onetime housekeeper to California Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman surfaced on Wednesday to claim that the former eBay executive knowingly employed her illegally and treated her poorly.

Honestly. I consider Reuters a world-class news organization. This headline is abysmal. It’s a disgrace.

Japan ship?


Pirates attack Japan ship, no crew injured-media

KENYA/TOKYO, Sept 12 (Reuters) – Pirates boarded a Japanese auto transport ship and robbed its crew off Indonesia late on Friday, but no one was injured and the undamaged ship resumed its voyage, Japanese media quoted the transport ministry as saying.

What, please, is a “Japan ship”? I know wooden ship, steel ship, warship and even editorship. Got any? Three letters more too long?

Where’s the ill temper?


Ortiz powers Sox to bad-tempered win

BASEBALL/I re-read this article three times looking for any comment about somebody being bad-tempered.

There was no mention or even a hint about bad tempers. Who provided the title to this well-written account of the game?

Pejorative word?



California transit cop verdict sparks looting

The word “cop” is a slang term. When used to refer to police, it is a pejorative. The use of the word “cop” by news media reflects laziness, unprofessionalism and disrespect.


I would describe that word as informal, the same thing my dictionary calls it.

As far as I can tell it was not used in our actual stories. However, it is a very convenient word to use in headlines, where it takes up a lot less space than officer or policeman: GBU Editor