Is Cartman a newsman?

The Drudge Report routinely posts raw numbers like this for the cable news shows. One can make the usual arguments that audience share and demographics give a better picture than simple totals. What is notable here, however, is the inclusion of “South Park” in the list.

I appreciate the topical nature of “South Park” — especially its take on Scientology and its spoof of “World of Warcraft.” But I wouldn’t call it a news show. Why would Drudge?

This and more Drudge absurdity here.


A matter of that

This headline from The Huffington Post is confusing, especially to those of us who have worked in the newsroom and seen “newspaper politics” in action. (Newsrooms are offices, after all, which is probably why many journalists like to watch “The Office.”) What this headline needs is a “that” in the right place:

FBI Agent Told To Keep Quiet
After Telling Newspaper That Politics

Were Involved In Firings

Sometimes “that” isn’t necessary — after “said,” for example. But it’s helpful and necessary in other situations.

Capital offenses

AP style doesn’t favor capitalization. When in doubt, lowercase a word, no matter how “important” it may seem.

Sometimes, of course, we should capitalize words — sometimes within a word. Proper names are among words we must capitalize. That seems obvious, but sometimes we go low when we shouldn’t. Here are two examples where we needed to go uppercase:

The Microsoft product is PowerPoint. Sure, making the second “p” uppercase is a marketing gimmick, but that’s what Bill Gates’ minions decided to call it. If we are going to use it in big type, let’s get it right.

This paragraph from an AP story isn’t the first time* a political figure has referred to the planet-destroying weapon from “Star Wars.” But that weapon has a proper name: the Death Star. “Jedi” should also be uppercase, but I will stop there at the expense of exposing my “Star Wars” geekiness.

* During the 2000 campaign, John McCain compared himself to Luke Skywalker fighting his way out of the Death Star.

The cliche defense

I’m not sure which is more odd about this interview with former House member Tom DeLay — that DeLay doesn’t seem to know the content of his own book or that he doesn’t know that cliches are to be avoided. Either way, his editor should have done a better job helping him with the book and preparing for questions about some of its phrasing.

Before and after

Headline at the Politico Web site before the news conference by John and Elizabeth Edwards:

Edwards to Suspend Campaign

Headline at after the Edwards’ news conference:

Edwards: ‘Campaign goes on’ despite wife’s cancer

The upshot: Sometimes it’s better not to rely on an anonymous source, as Politico did. And don’t link to a lone story with a lone anonymous source as Drudge did. Just wait for the news to happen. At least Wonkette has the courage and humor to admit that it didn’t know what was going on.

UPDATE: Politico’s blogger apologizes.

Alternative opinions

The Arizona Republic has changed its Monday editions to make it more fast and friendly. The new version includes more alternative story forms.

The comments here reflect that this sort of thing is still in the experimental stages. Some of it works; some of it doesn’t. But I do like this gamble on the editorial page. Unlike the dull pontificating in most newspapers, the Republic offers its views as a list. This is much more engaging than what I see in my daily paper, The News & Observer.

This and previous posts on alternative story forms are available here.