Thursday, December 30, 2021


Stanley – Thursday

I dedicate this blog to my friend Peter Rozovsky, who is appropriately scathing about the decline of good language, particularly in newspapers.

Peter Rozovsky

Over coffee yesterday morning, I said to Michael that I wanted to write a blog on badly written headlines. [I really dislike having to reread a headline, often many times, before I understand what it is trying to say.]

What sparked my comment was a headline that I had just read from the December 29 edition of the Texas News Today ( 

Both Michael and I decided that what it meant was that the parents of a teenager were charged after he shot and killed his 5-year-old sibling. Of course, one shouldn’t need a discussion to decipher a headline, and we snickered a bit at the poor quality of writing. 

For chuckles, I then read the first paragraph of the report. Little did I know where this was going to take me.

Pennsylvania’s 13-year-old parents, who were accused of shooting and killing their 5-year-old brother in November, are now being charged with themselves.

I nearly choked. I never knew that teenage siblings were allowed to marry in Pennsylvania. I guess that the USA is so large that there is always something new and interesting.

And what did it mean to be 'charged with themselves'?

Michael and I then decided that this news report had to be a parody.

However, it wasn’t. The Texas News Today is a real online publication, and this is what it promises its readers:, the pioneer of news sources & operates under the philosophy of keeping its readers informed of what’s happening out there. It strives to be very accurate by leaving no stone unturned as it digs into the heart of every story on the local as well as international level.

Armed with this promise of good journalism, I couldn't wait to read more of the article. Here are some excerpts:

Sarah Garwig and Thomas Wolfe, respectively, endanger the welfare of their children after Connor Wolfe’s death in Penn Hills on November 22, according to a criminal accusation filed by the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office on Fox News Digital on Tuesday. He has been charged with exposing him.

This was also an eye-opener, not only for the confusing writing, but also because I learned for the first time that criminal accusations in Pennsylvania are now filed on Fox News Digital.

WTAE reported that the suspect, who was also accused of possessing firearms by a minor, shot Connor Wolf after being angry with his brother who jumped into a bed in the house. is doing.

By this time, I was getting the distinct impression that didn't employ a copy editor.

While interviewing Thomas Wolfe and Sarah Garwig separately, Thomas admitted that he had left his pistol safely on top of his gun in their ground floor master bedroom. “Thomas uses his pistol as his daily carrying gun when he leaves the house.” 

A nice touch - the suspect being able to interview himself! I think I may move to Pennsylvania.

The station added that the teenager said he went into his father’s bedroom to get his father’s firearms to scare his brother. But when the 13-year-old boy pointed his gun at Wolf and triggered it, he said he believed that safety was turned on, according to WTAE.  

Wolf was beaten in the head and later died in a local hospital.

Hmm. I thought that Connor Wolf (or Wolfe) had been shot.

You can read the whole article here. It isn't long.

How could such a mess reach publication stage? I wondered. As I was thinking about that, I noticed a coloured SOURCE LINK. Aha, I exclaimed. The story came from somewhere else. I clicked on the link and was surprised when a Fox News article appeared. The headline was a little different and understandable.

A little different from the Texas version.

I read the article, which was clearly written and didn't confuse the reader. You can read it here.

So, how did a decent article end up so badly? 

Perhaps didn't have the money to use the Fox News article and commissioned one of its own writers to produce a new article based on the Fox News one.

Or perhaps the writer at wanted his name on a piece rather than just using the Fox News article. So he took the original article and rewrote it (tried to rewrite it) and perhaps ran out of time to proofread it. 

Whatever the reason, the result is awful.

Any experienced writer knows the moral of this story, namely ALWAYS have someone else, preferably someone who is literate, read what you have written before it goes public. It could spare you a lot of embarrassment.

So now I am compiling a list of bad or awkward or incomprehensible headlines. I will share it next year. Please let me have any you come across. 

I wish all Murder is Everywhere readers and bloggers a very healthy, happy, and prosperous 2022. I hope we look back on it with more affection than the current year.




  1. Here's back atcha, buddy, to 2022, that is. Just one question, more an observation, I suppose: I never knew that a "current year" could look back with affection.

  2. Stan, having been born and raised in the area where the tragic news story took place, I think the Texas News Today rewrite as nothing more than a copy editor's misguided effort to relay the sense of it all to its readership in the region's distinct, Yinzer Pittsburghese dialect.

    And all the best to you and Mette in 2022 and far, far beyond.

  3. The title of this blog is one of my favourite words. I think it's underused in polite society.