doubleshot media

for a strong, fast pick-me-up

Warning – Dangler Danger: Another atrocious dangler from TV news 2

A major Australian commercial television news bulletin contained a story about a “Good Samaritan” who tried to help teenagers being robbed on a train. When the Good Samaritan tried to intervene, he was set upon by the “thugs”.


Here’s the offending sentence:

Laying on the ground, the thugs stomped on his head.

Can you see the problems?

1. It should be lying not laying. (a common mistake)

2. The “dangler” (dangling modifier) says the THUGS were the ones “laying on the ground”.

So here’s how you can correct.

1. Learn when to use Lie or Lay (it’s confusing and this post is getting long – so I’ll explain in a future  post)

2. Be careful with danglers – and be aware that a dangler (a dangling modifier*) modifies the first noun or pronoun that follows it.

Laying on the ground,     the thugs           stomped on his head.

One way to fix this is to state who is lying on the ground.

As X was lying on the ground, the thugs stomped on his head.


The thugs knocked X to the ground – then stomped on his head.

TB today shoot

From experience I know how busy it is reporting on the road and putting a story together under deadline pressure.

That’s why it’s important to have subs or editors check the stories for errors.

It’s not enough just to catch and correct errors – it’s important to go further and to help those who make the mistakes learn how to fix their “errors”.

I moved out of the media into the corporate world where organisations invest in helping their people improve their writing.

TB training group


When I point out dangler danger, I often get the counter-arguments:

1. People will know what I mean.

2. Our audience isn’t smart enough to know about dangling modifiers or correct grammar. Our audience won’t care!


What do you think?


Am I expecting too much from the modern media? Please add your views in the comments section below.


Here’s a link to other dangler examples:



If you are reading this you are probably a writer or editor or journalist or journalism student.

You probably have lots of examples to share. Please feel free to add to the comments section.

Also, please let me know if you have any questions on usage – especially acceptable usage for broadcast journalism.

(As a news junkie, I get to note so many journalism writing mistakes I see. I use the COMMON MISTAKES as examples for when I run writing sessions on Writing for TV and Radio.

I share lots of the tips my media bosses and colleagues taught me that helped me correct the many mistakes I made!)

And feel free to contact me (discreetly) to let me know if I have any errors in my copy! I still have that reporter urge to write and “publish” with a sense of urgency!


TB radio reporter 4BK

If you enjoyed this post – Let’s connect:

If you found this post interesting you can follow me and connect with me.

I blog about fun pop culture stuff as well as more serious business communication tips.

I’ve disciplined my self to check ALL my different communication platforms twice a day – as part of my Check-in Ritual.


tony biancotti


TB headline technique


For another atrocious news dangler:




One comment on “Warning – Dangler Danger: Another atrocious dangler from TV news 2

  1. efangelist
    February 2, 2017

    Reblogged this on efangelist.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: