Media

As…

From Monday’s Bristol Post.

Headline reads: Pedestrian hit by van as Great Western Air Ambulance lands in city centre

Is this:

  • correlation;
  • causation; or
  • a typical example of a poorly written headline from a Reach plc title?

Murdoch rag makes up language

The Murdoch Sun has long had a reputation for making up stories, such as the infamous The Truth front page which accused Liverpool fans of misbehaviour and criminality at Hillsborough in 1989 when 97 Liverpool football fans lost their lives in an incident which a later inquest ruled to have involved unlawful killing.

The infamous The Truth Sun front page

That front page untruth resulted in a boycott of Rupert’s rag by the city of Liverpool that continues to this day.

However, not content with upsetting a city for over 3 decades with a made-up story, Murdoch’s apology for a newspaper has now started on a more ambitious project – making up a new language akin to English, starting with changing the past tense of the verb to fly from a strong verb conjugation to a weak verb one. Headline reads Mum flied home from honeymoon along as hubby denied boarding

The headline has since been corrected following mockery on social media to the effect that it’s now written by 10 year-olds.

Is there no start to the talent of those members of its staff that the title insists it employs as journalists?

Seriously…

How many times have you heard or read the phrase “We take (insert_topic_here) very seriously…” in a newspaper or broadcast media news item?

Today’s Guardian website includes a report with not just one but two organisations – HS2 and the Environment Agency – claiming precisely that they take matters within their respective bailiwicks “incredibly seriously” (HS2) and “very seriously” (Environment Agency).

This “seriously” – whether qualified or not – appears to be part of the hackneyed stock reply to the unearthing of errors or shortcomings that the bodies involved would have preferred not to have come to light and seems to your ‘umble scribes mind to be shorthand for “we’ve been caught out“.

Another way of describing them is weasel words, i.e. something that someone says either to avoid answering a question clearly or to make someone believe something that is not true. In other words lies and/or hypocrisy are brought into play to save the reputation and embarrassment of the organisation involved and its senior management.

The Guardian’s story appears to be a classic example of the modern (mis)use of the adverb seriously. However, your correspondent does at the same time note that neither of the organisations involved resorted to that other stock phrase frequently wheeled out when they’ve been found wanting, i.e.: “We have robust measures in place…“. But let’s leave the deceit inherent in the use of robust for another time.

Finally, if HS2 is sincere, the use of the adverb “incredibly also merits examination. Its dictionary definition is “difficult to believe“, so in effect what HS2’s was actually saying is that it is hard to believe the organisation takes the matter seriously at all. 😀

Da iawn, Athro!

Welsh schoolteacher Stephen Mason has set up a YouTube channel called So You’ve Moved to Wales (SYMTW) specifically for non-Welsh speaking schoolchildren moving to a Welsh school and having to catch up on Welsh language studies, Nation Cymru reports.

Mr Mason works at Queen Elizabeth High School in Carmarthen and has 25 years’ service at the chalkface.

Explaining his motive for setting up the SYMTW channel, Mr Mason told the paper:

Moving home and changing schools when you are a teenager is a stressful time. A new country, a new school and a new language can easily become associated with an unhappy or stressful life episode. I therefore decided to make a series of videos for Welsh teachers to share with latecomers to their subject that would help them settle into their new surroundings more easily.

The first of Mr Mason’s videos is embedded below.

Thank you Viz

When Viz comic first emerged onto the British media scene in 1979 its content was based on parodying British children’s comics, notably The Beano and The Dandy (both of which your ‘umble scribe read as a child. Ed.) – of the post-war period with the extensive use of obscenity, toilet humour, black comedy, surreal humour and generally sexual or violent storylines.

It is therefore no surprise that Viz has been taking aim at – and having fun with – part-time alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his government of high-functioning imbeciles (the only funny-bone ticklers having a hard job mocking Bozo and his clowns are the satirists. Ed.).

Viz's targeting uses as its vehicle the long-running classic British Carry On film franchise series.

Spoof cinema poster for Carry On Covid

Nevertheless, there seems to have been some mis-casting in the Viz version: Sid James has more competence in his little finger than Bozo the Clown has in his whole anatomy, whilst Priti Patel is more noted for her lack of humanity than an ability to deliver a double entendre.

Ambiguity corner – latest

For the second time this week, Reach plc’s Wales Online title graces this blog with its presence due to its journalists’ failure to understand the word ambiguity, let alone recognise what it means and how avoiding it is crucial for members of the fourth estate.

Today sees a classic ambiguous headline for this story.

Headline reads; Boy, 15, approached woman in woods armed with log and said 'give me all your stuff'

Who was armed with the log? Take your pick!

Amongst other things, the Guardian and Observer style guide states that ambiguity is a common problem in headlines”.

Rat joins sinking ship

If audience viewing figures for GBeebies are to be believed…

The station started on a low and then declined.

Tweet reads: I'm really excited to announce I'm joining GB News - my new show coming soon....

I now wait in trepidation for a letter before action from the Seafaring Rats Association. 😉

Welsh sheepdog lives to 89?

Another day, another confusing headline from a Reach plc title, this time the Daily Post/North Wales Live, with this story about an 89 year-old sheepdog, an 89 year-old man with werewolf proclivities or something else, which escapes your ‘umble scribe’s imagination for the time being.

Headline reads: 89-year-old who caught Covid has just made the Welsh national sheepdog team

For a sheepdog, he looks remarkably human!

I’m perplexed!

However, there is one upside to the policy of Reach titles to cram the whole story into the headline, i.e. one normally doesn’t have to waste time reading the article.

~Are Reach titles operating on the TL:DR principle?

Answers in the comments please!

Bristol Post exclusive: Journalist eats catering establishment

Today’s Bristol Post website features another of modern journalism’s highlights – the hidden exclusive (posts passim), although this particular style of hackery is not itself peculiar to publications in the Reach plc stable.

Yesterday’s Bristol Post hidden exclusive features Mark Taylor, allegedly the title’s food, drink and restaurant critic, who seems to have eschewed protein, carbohydrates and fat for a more substantial diet, in this case the shipping container housing the soon-to-open Choux Box Patisserie down by the city docks. At Wapping Wharf shipping containers replace the construction materials of more traditional eateries.

Headline reads: Delicious new patisserie to open in Bristol

There’s only one place I know of where eating buildings is not unusual and that’s the tale of Hansel and Gretel, first published in 1812 by the Brothers Grimm.

Hansel, Gretel, the witch and the gingerbread house

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

For some reasons known only the the residents of the Temple Way Ministry of Truth, Mr Taylor’s piece is strangely quiet about the quality of the ingredients used for the shipping container. 😉

Finally, your ‘umble scribe must remark that given his constitution, Mr Taylor may like to start training for food challenges of the Man v. Food reality show variety, of which there are plenty to punish his palette in Bristol.

Mail muddles linguists

Members of the fourth estate being unable to distinguish the difference between translators and interpreters has a long history – one which has occasionally been highlighted by this blog.

The latest publication’s staff to show their ignorance work – if that’s the correct term – for the Daily Mail which today published this report with the headline shown below.

Headline reads Raab was 'too busy' on holiday to help brave translators

The copy alternates between translators and interpreters when referring to the victims of alleged Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s lack compassion for people who’ve served this country at great risk to their own lives and those of their families – a clear sign that the author, John Stevens, the Mail’s deputy political editor is ignorant of their different skills.

Should he happen to alight on this article, I can only recommend Mr Stevens extends his visit to this blog by following my recommendation that he reads this handy guide to the difference between translators and interpreters, which has some useful illustrations to explain the difference, as he clearly has difficulties in understanding words. 😀

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