Wednesday, March 22, 2006

CNN, you are not forgiven

While I'm on the topic of shocking ... check out this shockingly bad headline at
FBI, you've got mail -- NOT!

FBI official says budget doesn't cover accounts for all agents
I will note here that CNN is hiring, so perhaps they're understaffed. Even so, it takes energy to write headlines that terrible. No excuse.


At 1:03 AM, March 23, 2006, Blogger WordzGuy said...

I'm not entirely sure what the basis is for your disapproval, so I'd be interested to have you spell it out. It is, of course, ungrammatical in a strict sense, but not in a way that would cause it to be unrecognized by many (most?) people. It is perhaps a little too obvious (a journalism professor I had once deducted points if our ledes were "too obvious"). Even so, one could say the headline is kind of clever. I believe it qualifies as what our friends on the Language Log call a "snowclone," being a play on the omnipresent "you've got mail" meme (yea, verily, a Nora Ephron movie) with the standard, if slightly passe "-- not!", a kind of updated "psych! (sp?) from the days of elementary school.

Or, of course, I could be missing your point entirely. :-)

At 11:36 AM, March 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Nicole here -- the hed doesn't do more than let the reader know the story is about the FBI and e-mail. And "not" is a little more than past its prime. Maybe not the worst hed ever, but it's definitely a lazy hed.

At 3:59 PM, March 23, 2006, Blogger Bill said...

The "not" thing was neither fresh nor clever even in its long-ago prime. I'm willing to cut the online and electronic media a lot of slack on these things (I've been known to defend silly Slate headlines), but this one is sub-juvenile.

At 9:11 PM, March 23, 2006, Blogger Nicole said...

The grammar doesn't bother me at all. The "you've got" instead of "you have" is there simply as an allusion to the phrase "You've got mail." It wouldn't work otherwise.

But that phrase was already overused by the time it became a movie title in 1998; it was first recorded for AOL in 1989.

Not all word play is clever.

And following a headline with "NOT!" just to make a tired allusion work is sophomoric.

I'm with Bill about online headlines; there are different rules there than in print. But some headlines are bad anywhere they show up. This is one of them.

At 12:22 PM, March 25, 2006, Blogger Daniel Hunt said...

Amen, Bill, et al.

At 4:46 AM, March 26, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the true measure is whether it made people click and read the story.


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