Are News Headlines with informal or slang wording unprofessional?

In the past few years I’ve noticed more and more frequently journalists are using sloppy wording in their headlines and stories. This seems to be a bigger problem with web sites than newspapers.

I cringe every time I see the word “kin”. Are we in Dogpatch? Is Lil’Abner & Daisy Mae their target audience these days? Why not embed banjo music in the story too? :rolleyes:

The NY Times writes a headline like this? :dubious: It sounds more like a headline from The Enquirer or Star. Would it kill them to properly say relatives?

Kin of missing ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson thrilled by reports he’s alive

Hang on to your spurs pardner. :stuck_out_tongue: This here boy is gut shot. Quick, go get Doc Holliday from the saloon. :stuck_out_tongue:

Navy police shoot one sailor in gut after chase at San Diego base

Perhaps they could say, Navy police shot a sailor in the abdomen after a chase?

You can find hundreds more examples yourself. It wasn’t always like this. The sloppy writing has gradually gotten worse in the past ten years.

There was a time when a journalist’s prose was a matter of personal pride. I’m not sure Edmund Burke had sloppy writing in mind when he spoke of the Fourth Estate. I can’t imagine Walter Cronkite or Harry Reasoner using phrases like gut shot, kin or whatever drivel is colloquially acceptable these days.

The over-simplification of language bothers me because news is one of the few things many Americans read anymore. It makes me wonder how limited the next generations vocabulary will be.

Do you cringe when you see news stories with phrases like kin or shot in the gut?

Kin has long been a staple of headline writing. It’s got a short count, fits in lots of spaces.
Making evocative headlines that fit in the space allotment has always been an art and in the print world its often accomplished by using words like kin, gut, bust, ill, gap.
I stopped working in the newspaper business 15 years ago and they were prevalent when I was writing headlines, so I’m not sure why you think it’s a recent phenomenon.

I understand space is an issue with newspaper headlines. It’s not as big an issue with web sites. They have a lot more room and there’s no typesetting cost.

I understand an eye catching headline is needed. But, they even use words like kin or gut within the article.

“Kin” and “gut” are perfectly acceptable English words. I don’t understand what your issue is.

I don’t know if it’s wrong, but I’m childishly amused by this recent headline:
**White House Taps Gay Man, Jeremy Bernard, for New Social Secretary **

I likewise agree. I might have a slight problem with actual slang in titles, but none of these examples are slang. Heck, “kin” is even quite old. “Good tidings we bring/For you and your kin./Good tidings for Christmas/And a Happy New Year.”

See also: slain.

I did get pissed off when the Wall Street Journal had a headline: “Living Soldier Wins Medal of Honor”, but that’s an incorrect term and insulting to boot.

I think it’s because such words are anglo-saxon in origin and therefore have a lower class connotation to them. They are not, however, informal.

Kin bothers me the most. It’s a word I associate with hillbillies. The tv show the Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, various hillbilly movies etc.

I’m Southern and grew up near the Ozarks. We often get kidded because of our accent. I’ve always avoided words that makes the stereotype worse.

Also, I like precision and a certain eloquence in words. Saying someone was shot in the gut is just tacky. CNN reporters are trained better than that.

I guess I’m tilting at windmills today. :smiley:

I’m often frustrated with newspaper headlines. I’ve reached the point that if the headline is clearly trying to be “cute,” I assume it’s because the article isn’t actually interesting or useful to me, and I skip it.


Reading the thread title, I was going to suggest you unpucker your sphincter. However, both of your headline examples really rub me the wrong way. I wouldn’t call them unprofessional, though. I just think they both suck.

You know what really bugs the shit out of me? Pleaded. Everybody “pleaded not guilty” these days. What happened to plead? It’s shorter and it sounds better to me. I know pleaded is grammatically acceptable. I just don’t like it.

As noted upthread, “kin” not only predates the Beverly Hillbillies (and, in fact, predates Shakespeare) but it is also used in legal circles.

“Gut” is a medical term. Check this out.

And neither of the original examples holds a candle to a story in the late, unlamented St. Louis Sun about a lawsuit filed by a woman who claimed her boyfriend’s assault on her derriere was less than playful:

“He bit hers so she sues his”

***AcePlace: “No Grace in Race for Headline Space!” ***
Pleads Loss of Face For Southern Race; "No Place for Gutless Kin"

So, basically, you feel like people who use that word are persecuting you? Do I have that right? If so, then yes, you ARE tilting at windmills today, and SERIOUSLY need to get over yourself!

I don’t care if other people use the word kin. Off hand, I can’t recall anyone I know use that word in conversation. Usually people say relatives. It’s mainly the news articles that use it. I don’t get angry. If anything it amuses me to think of someone educated in the 1990’s using a hillbilly word. Maybe he’s got a piece of straw in his teeth and plug of Redman on his desk. :smiley: Is their vocabulary really that limited. They don’t own a Thesaurus?

I’d really call that wider vocabulary, myself.

Which term is incorrect? The only word that seems slightly odd to me is “wins” where I would say “awarded.”

Well, yes. You don’t WIN the Medal of Honor. Did all those dead guys lose it?

Sorry, Zsofia, I don’t think you’re going to win any accolades for that position.

This, however, wins my eternal admiration:

I like the word “kin”.

“Kith”, however, is an abomination.