Tuesday, November 07, 2006

"That headline is one of the worst I've seen in a long time"

"That headline is, like, one of the worst I've seen in a long time." — Chicago Tribune national reporter Jill Zuckman to Howard Kurtz, about this headline "Democrats, On the Offensive, Could Gain Both Houses" (via Romenesko)

Of course, the headline isn't wrong, and it is supported by the story, in my opinion. Democrats are almost sure to take the House, and they have a shot at taking the Senate too.

What does Zuckman say? "It goes way too far and, honestly, we don't really know what's going to happen on Election Day. We have an idea, but — but to say that the Senate is — you know, the Senate is a lot less at risk than the House is right now."

The headline doesn't say anything about the Senate but that it could go to the Democrats. But Zuckman's problem is that implies more than a possibility.

Chalk this up to one more problem with "could" headlines.

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At 3:02 PM, November 07, 2006, Blogger Vince Tuss said...

The headline reflects the story. The problem isn't with the headline. The problem is expecting extreme nuance in five or six words.

At 2:55 PM, November 08, 2006, Anonymous Tom Gordon said...

I think the problem with "could" is that if means "can." "Democrats, On the Offensive, Can Gain (why gain and not take?) Both Houses," expresses an ability, but not a fact. Saying so and so can do something almost always invites the question, but will he?

At 12:47 AM, November 09, 2006, Anonymous rknil said...

It's no worse than the "It's time to ..." headlines that we see again and again because too many CEs are too lazy to come up with something else.

At 1:40 PM, November 09, 2006, Blogger Bill said...

Writing headlines on news-free stories in the last couple of days before an election is a no-win job. I wasn't working that day, but I thought the hed was fine. If anything, it's guilty of stating the obvious. We had reported previously that both houses were in play.

This Zuckperson's implication that the Democrats COULDN'T POSSIBLY win both houses sure was interesting.


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