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Warning – Dangler Danger: Another atrocious dangler from TV news

I recently heard this on the news of  a major Australian commercial network.

Can you see what’s wrong with it?

Barely conscious and with a shattered nose, paramedics work to save the latest victim of the Sunshine Coast’s violent drinking culture.

Yes, it technically says that the paramedics are the ones who are barely conscious and with a shattered nose.

It’s called a dangling modifer or the “saucier sounding”  – dangler.

The BBC  News Styleguide warns against using danglers.

BBC danglers

 

Now, I made plenty of mistakes as a young news reporter – but I had bosses and colleagues who discreetly told me how to fix my mistakes. That’s probably why I know so much about news writing mistakes – plenty of first-hand experience! 🙂

TB radio reporter 4BK

 

I keep seeing or hearing the same mistakes again and again on Australian news. I know media profits are down and resources are scarce  – but it’s not that hard to fix mistakes such as danglers.

As the BBC guide instructs – the phrase needs a noun or it will attach to the first noun or pronoun that comes along.

 

So, to fix:

 

Barely conscious and with a shattered nose, paramedics work to save the latest victim of the Sunshine Coast’s violent drinking culture.

 

Keep the noun close to the modifying words “barely conscious and with a shattered nose”.

I understand in TV news you often start with the most dramatic pictures and “write to those pictures”.

So, you can write:

Barely conscious and with a shattered nose – the latest victim of the Sunshine Coast’s violent drinking culture. Paramedics work to save him.

OR

Paramedics work to save the latest victim of the Sunshine Coast’s violent drinking culture. Barely conscious and with a shattered nose, the man was drinking at…(continued)

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:

news-writing-tip-avoid-danglers

 

———

word nerd CU

 

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

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@tonybiancotti

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These days, lots of people and organisations need help with how to COPE with: too much work, too much information, too many meetings, delivering difficult news, business writing, effective e-mail, e-mail overload, cross-cultural communication etc. I like to help people COPE.

TBCope.001

 

 

 

 

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

  1. efangelist
    February 17, 2015

    Reblogged this on efangelist.

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