Monday, December 31, 2007

Web Boy is Short on Space and Time

Below is the headline composed as dramatic dialogue followed by the entire, complete and whole story in one line, deemed sufficient to inform by Charlotte Sun's Web editor:

Remember the girl who shot President Ford? She just got out of prison
XXXSAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Sara Jane Moore, who tried to assassinate President Ford in 1975, was released from prison Monday, authorities said.

Actually, I remember two women who tried to assassinate President Ford in 1975. The subject of this one-line story was 45 years old and had been married five times by the time she drew a bead on the 38th president. Hardly a girl.

Of course, there isn't enough room on the Web to include any of that. And there isn't enough time in a busy boy's day to look stuff up before writing a headline. I'm sure there's more to the story, like was Moore's sentence up or was she released for good behavior or set free as a result of prison overcrowding? Charlotte Sun readers will never know.

Just as an aside, Lynette Fromme, who had shot at Gerald R. Ford two weeks before, was 26 at the time and already had attended college and dropped into Charles Manson's group. Again, hardly a "girl."

Get the boy an AP Stylebook and have him read the entry for "girl" on page 106.

Meanwhile, Brian Gleason reaches for clever in a year-end wrap by writing, "Playboy Playmate and would-be millionaire heiress Anna Nicole Smith died in February beside a nightstand full of uppers and downers, setting off a paternity battle for her daughter that had more contenders than the 2008 presidential election." Instead of clever, Gleason delivers fictionalized, exaggerated and just plain incorrect reportage. The real story isn't good enough for his creative flow, and he's writing a column, so let's not let facts get in the way of a (largely irrelevant) reference. And the rescue is so easy: "seemed."

And just in case locals need to drive somewhere fast, the Web story can direct them to the details: Charlotte names speeding zones for New Year’s week

The Web desk boy means, of course, deputies will be looking for speeders in designated zones. But there's not enough room on the Web to be quite that clear.

And an afterthought about stuff on the Web: The health tab "Feeling Fit" last Sunday ran an article calling Beijing China's "capitol." The Charlotte Sun's promotional paragraph on the Web for the story has carried the error day after day after day. One advantage of the Web is an alert editor can fix things. If he cares. Or knows.

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