September 15th, 2005

Ambiguous Headline

Soldier on leave from Iraq killed helping motorist.


Oh, those evil soldiers, why do they kill helping motorists?


The Associated Press probably thought it would kill them to have added 7 characters to remove ambiguity, e.g.: "Soldier on leave from Iraq killed while helping motorist."

But they could have removed ambiguity and shortened the headline, e.g.: "Soldier on leave from Iraq died helping motorist." Of course, killed makes it sound much more sensational, as if someone willfully, or perhaps ignorantly, killed him. When, in fact, he "came into contact with downed electrical wires" while trying to lend someone a hand.

This is my 3rd gripe against the A.P. after their dismissal of the serial comma and their use of Michiganian over Michigander or Michiganite.