Thursday, November 24, 2011

Confusing the Reader

Normally, my rants over sloppy news coverage are directed at Yahoo!  However, every now and then a blooper pops up from the other side of the pond;  and fairness dictates that I recognize that more reputable sources blunder, too.  It was not that long ago that I took Ivan Hewitt of the London Telegraph to task for his silly declaration of Wayne Shorter as “the Wagner of jazz;”  but this time we are dealing with news rather than opinion (at least on The Telegraph’s part).

This morning the Music News section on the Web site for The Telegraph has a story sporting the following headline:

Jimi Hendrix named 'greatest guitar player in history'

That hyperbole is supplemented with a sub-headline:

Legendary musician Jimi Hendrix has been named the greatest guitar player in history by Rolling Stone magazine in a list compiled by a panel of music experts and top guitar players.

Fortunately, the report itself begins with a quote from Tom Morello that is far less sloppy:

Jimi Hendrix exploded our idea of what rock music could be: He manipulated the guitar, the whammy bar, the studio and the stage.

Kudos go to Morello for appreciating the value of that adjectival “rock.”  Why The Telegraph decided to omit those four letters from its headline is a mystery.  Did they really think that the guitar did not exist before the rock era?  My guess is that Rolling Stone knew better, designing their poll around the genre they knew best.  I guess The Telegraph, conservative as it may be, could not resist the temptation to look cool for this story.

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