Ulf Kirchdorfer’s post yesterday made me laugh out loud. But, as funny as his observations about persistently dismal writing are, that sort of writing itself is just terribly disheartening, especially when one is confronted with document after document that seem to suggest that it has become something close to pervasive.
If I have a choice in the matter, I prefer to focus on gaffes that might possible have been accidental or at least the result of a momentary lapse, rather than due to some ingrained insensitivity to language or a brutish lack of style (the rhetorical equivalent of Soviet-era architecture).
The following is a collection of “unfortunate” newspaper headlines collected by readers of the Columbia Journalism Review in the 1980s.
This item originally appeared at Futility Closet (www.futilitycloset.com). It is being re-posted with the permission of Greg Ross, who maintains that site. You can have daily updates from the site delivered to your e-mail each morning.
READER IS UPSET OVER DOG EATING FILIPINOS (The Wayne County Outlook, Monticello, Ky., Feb. 25, 1982)
MORE OF US WILL LIVE TO BE CENTURIONS (The Times Reporter, Dover-New Philadelphia, Ohio, Feb. 11, 1987)
POLICE BRUTALITY POSTPONED (The Mishawaka, Ind., Enterprise, Oct. 1, 1981)
DESPITE OUR BEST EFFORTS, BLACK EMPLOYMENT IS STILL RISING (The Evening Times, West Palm Beach, Fla., Oct. 3, 1980)
BRITISH LEFT WAFFLES ON FALKLANDS (Guardian, April 28, 1982)
FRIED CHICKEN COOKED IN MICROWAVE WINS TRIP (The Oregonian, July 8, 1981)
CROWDS RUSHING TO SEE POPE TRAMPLE 6 TO DEATH (Journal Star, Peoria, Ill., July 9, 1980)
HERE’S HOW YOU CAN LICK DOBERMAN’S LEG SORES (Reading Eagle, May 23, 1982)
EYE DROPS OFF SHELVES (Tri-City Herald, Pasco, Wash., Aug. 5, 1982)
PESTICIDE CONCERNS BLOSSOM (Williamsport, Pa., Sun-Gazette, May 21, 1985)
PRINCE ANDREW TAKES KOO PEASANT HUNTING IN SCOTLAND (The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Nov. 28, 1982)
In February 1986 the Durham, N.C., Sun reported that contributions to Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business had increased by 120 percent in the previous year. It chose the headline FUQUA SCHOOL GIVING UP.
My previous re-posts from Futility Closet have included:
“But Should It Count toward Promotion and Tenure”: https://academeblog.org/2013/05/21/but-would-it-count-toward-promotion-and-tenure/
“Another Item of Ironic Scholarship from Futility Closet”: https://academeblog.org/2013/05/26/another-item-on-ironic-scholarship-from-futility-closet/
“Odd Library Subject Headings”: https://academeblog.org/2013/06/03/odd-library-subject-headings/
“Herein Lies Another Route to Madness”: https://academeblog.org/2013/06/07/herein-lies-yet-another-route-to-madness/
“How-To Books That Make One Wonder Why”: https://academeblog.org/2013/06/18/how-to-books-that-make-one-wonder-why/
“Higher Ed’s Version of the Great Imposter”: https://academeblog.org/2013/06/20/higher-eds-version-of-the-great-impostor/
“ A Significant Portion of Someone’s Life Was Devoted to Writing Each of These Books”: https://academeblog.org/2013/08/26/a-significant-portion-of-someones-life-was-devoted-to-writing-each-of-these-books/
“Making Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow a Little Less Mundane”: https://academeblog.org/2013/08/19/making-yesterday-today-and-tomorrow-a-little-less-mundane/
“Parsing the Paradoxical Nature of Politics”: https://academeblog.org/2013/12/09/parsing-the-paradoxical-nature-of-politics/
“How to Make the Case for an Article’s Publication”: https://academeblog.org/2013/12/27/how-to-make-the-case-for-an-articles-publication/#more-5380
“Plagiarism and Cryptomnesia”: https://academeblog.org/2014/01/02/plagiarism-and-cryptomnesia/
“Taking Literary Minimalism to Its Endpoint”: https://academeblog.org/2014/04/19/6702/
“A Postscript to One-Word Poems: A Poem without Words—from the Academe Archives No Less”: https://academeblog.org/2014/04/20/a-postscript-to-one-word-poems-a-poem-without-words-from-the-academe-archives-no-less/
“It Was Never an Either/Or Choice, but Was the Mutilation of the Stacks Worse than the Abandonment of the Stacks?”: https://academeblog.org/2014/05/18/it-was-never-an-eitheror-choice-but-was-the-mutilation-of-the-stacks-worse-than-the-abandonment-of-the-stacks/