Don’t fret over this headline

A letter to the editor to The News & Observer takes the Raleigh newspaper to task for this headline in its print edition: “Teachers fret over budget plans.”

The problem? The verb.

The letter writer, who is the head of the education department at Meredith College, perceives it as an insult: “The headline demeans the teaching profession. Teachers are not fretting; teachers have serious concerns and questions about major changes in N.C.’s spending on education.”

As a parent of a student in the Wake County schools and a resident of North Carolina, I share the reader’s concerns about the General Assembly’s cuts to public education. But I disagree that “fret” is pejorative.

Typical definitions of “fret” go like this: “to become vexed or worried” or “to be visibly anxious.” The educators quoted in this story reflect those feelings.

It helps headline writers that “fret” is a commonly used word that consists of just four letters. That’s probably why it appeared in that headline. It’s a suitable word choice and not a slight to teachers. There’s no need, therefore, to fret about this headline.

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2 thoughts on “Don’t fret over this headline

  1. I have more of a problem with “budget plans.” A budget is a plan. “Teachers worry about budget” would have fit (not that I see a big problem with “fret,” although it might for some convey a certain fussiness that teachers might object to).

  2. Yes, fret is like fussy, as in the baby is fussy because she is teething. Four letter word I like is ‘stew’

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