in journalism, is it okay to use in the headline a quote with an obvious grammatical error?
“in journalism, is it okay to use in the headline a quote with an obvious grammatical error?” – in the end that was the question left with me on a rappler.com article that i saw posted in twitter.
we’re not a journalist, didn’t even take up journalism in school. the closest we came to journalism was to write a few articles for the school newspaper in college, the blogs we have here but most of it is we just consume a lot of news and articles published in newspapers, magazines and in the last few years the internet.
we saw a tweet by maria ressa, big boss at rappler.com with the headline “tacloban : ‘barely any houses standing’” . we are also not an english teacher, at most we write in english at work but alarm bells went off when we read that headline. we thought the headline had an obvious grammatical error – “houses” should not be plural, it had an unneeded letter “s” on it.
the headline didn’t sound right. we felt it was very difficult to read and caused some pain when reading it.
maria ressa was kind enough to respond:
we were left with a question – is it okay in journalism, for a news website to put on the headline something that is obviously wrong grammar just because it is a ‘direct quote’, meaning these were the exact words spoken by the person interviewed?
the point we raised was, fine it’s a direct quote (and the article did show it was a quote), but what harm will it do if the media outlet took the liberty to change the quote to make it grammatically correct? will the person quoted complain that his words were not directly quoted? we thought there will be no harm if it was corrected. in a succeeding tweet, i said this was the first time that i had read an obvious grammatical error in a headline from a news outlet.
anyone has an answer to my question?
postscript : rappler.com had revised / updated that article and completely changed the headline. click here : http://www.rappler.com/nation/43285-initial-reports-damage-tacloban-city