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.