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Dangler Danger: Iraq news coverage – better #writing

Watching the news coverage about Iraq, this report on a major Australian TV network caught my attention.




“After taking control of large swathes of the country, the UN claims Jihadists are carrying out summary executions on civilians, police and soldiers.”

Can you see the problem with the sentence?  Technically, the problem is called a dangling modifier.


Who has taken control of large swathes of the country?

I suspect the reporter was referring to the Jihadists – but the way the sentence is written, the sentence says that the  UN is the “thing” that has taken over the country and then after that claims that….(etc.)

TB Def Cor DC


Now as a former reporter on Australian TV, I  understand the pressures of reporting and writing  on a deadline and the need to compress scripts for the tight times for TV and radio stories.


One thing I love about the BBC – is the BBC has a style guide that warns reporters are other news writers on the danger of dangling modifiers.


BBC danglers


These days, I live a much quieter (and safer) existence as a writing coach and instructor.

Old instincts die hard – like watching the news AND looking out for danglers.


Maybe you think danglers are “no big deal” – and that your audience with get what you mean.

I just hope to help budding writers be aware of “dangler danger” and to direct them to resources for quality writing such as the BBC style guide.

If you are interested here is a link.

BBC guide – including dangler danger


Also, can you see another (deliberate) dangler – right at the start of this post?



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



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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 etc. I like to help people COPE.




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