Mea culpa: something’s not right with these absentees

Questions of style and language in last week’s Independent, brought to you by Jo Turner

Monday 26 July 2021 15:54
<p>The Undertaker is a WWE superstar but he’s not the only one</p>

The Undertaker is a WWE superstar but he’s not the only one

None of us are immune to a bit of clickbait – I’m quite partial to a survival story. One thing that didn’t survive for long was the intro to an Independent article about a stranded man who was rescued after being stalked and repeatedly attacked by a grizzly bear for a week.

It sounded very exciting – until proceedings kicked off with: “The coastguard pilot immediately knew something was wrong when he spotted an SOS sign on top of a shack and a man desperately trying to get his attention by waving his hands in the air.” Well, thank you, Captain Obvious!

Sense has been sacrificed for the sake of a cliche. The piece starts with a drop intro, where news articles should sum up the facts in the first sentence – rules are there to be bent, of course, but not when the words aren’t telling us anything. The story was, frankly, dead on arrival. With an action-packed new top line, man, bear and pilot could get the attention they deserve.

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