Monday, June 13, 2011

That's what not to write

Back in January, fev at Headsup: The Blog had a funny post about the "that's what" ledes favored by a certain Detroit Free Press writer. Ledes like:
Heroin for grandma? 
That's what an international airline passenger told federal agents in Detroit this week after getting busted trying to sneak $50,000 worth of heroin into the country. 
He had a pretty funny collection, but today, reading the paper from my Ohio hometown,  I found one (on the front page, no less) that I think tops them all:
Severe diarrhea.
That's what Melissa Campbell's 15-month-old son, Mason Holden, had from Wednesday night until about 4 p.m. Saturday.* 
Yes, it really is a news story: The pharmacist mixed the toddler's antibiotic solution at twice the specified strength. The store realized its mistake, according to the report, and phoned the mother later that day, so no harm was done. (And diarrhea is a side effect of the medicine in any case.) 

But it's hard to think of a news story of any description (anywhere but The Onion) that would be well served by the lede "Severe diarrhea." 

*If that's not enough information for you, just keep reading. "I'm changing him every 30 minutes," the mother says later.


T. Roger Thomas said...

Idiotic Reporter

That's the label that has been applied to this newsman by more than one...

Bryan White said...

That is kind of an annoying device, isn't it? It's like they're panting and wagging their tail because they think they have such an attention grabber on their hands, and a lot of times it's misleading too.

Killer Asteroids!!!

That's what 9 year old Timmy Johnson's winning science fair project was all about.

Harvey Lee Whitmire said...

Reminds me of report on a wedding reception years ago in my hometown paper.
The table was decorated with magnolia flowers and pine cones. Two large punch bowls, one with lime sherbet, the other with orange were placed on each end of the table. Goodies of all sorts were in the middle. Mrs. Anabel Lumas and her daughter Emily poured from both ends.

John Lawler said...

If they're going to use it as a lede, at least they can spell it with a ligature, viz. diarrhœa. It doesn't smell any better, but it's much classier in print.