But I do have an issue with the title (which usually is something an editor adds, not the writer.) Here
Social workers can't protect Alaska
kids on shoestring budget
What's wrong you ask. Is it poor kids that can't be protected? Or is it poor social workers who can't do the protecting?
This is a simple style issue that Strunk and White pointed out long ago in Elements of Style. (The link takes you to the book online.) The specific item I'm quoting is from Section III, Elementary Rules of Composition, number 16 which begins on page 15.
16. Keep related words together. The position of the words in a sentence is the principal means of showing their relationship. The writer must therefore, so far as possible, bring together the words, and groups of words, that are related in thought, and keep apart those which are not so related.
Here's the specific rule of thumb for this case and some examples.
Modifiers should come, if possible next to the word they modify. If several expressions modify the same word, they should be so arranged that no wrong relation is suggested.
- All the members were not present.
- Not all the members were present.
- He only found two mistakes.
- He found only two mistakes.
- Major R. E. Joyce will give a lecture on Tuesday evening in Bailey Hall, to which the public is invited, on "My Experiences in Mesopotamia" at eight P. M.
- On Tuesday evening at eight P. M., Major R. E. Joyce will give in Bailey Hall a lecture on "My Experiences in Mesopotamia." The public is invited.
Let's add one more example here:
- Social workers can't protect Alaska kids on shoestring budget
- Social workers on shoestring budget can't protect Alaska kids
To me, the improvements are pretty clear, but if anyone has a question about why the bolded examples are better, leave a comment or email me (email's in right column above blog archive.)
Why does this matter? Because humans have a lot of trouble communicating ideas from one person to another. Even when they get everything right, there's miscommunication. People who write - particularly editors at newspapers - should follow Strunk and White's rules (including their admonition about knowing when to break them) as automatically as they use the turn indicator in their car. It doesn't solve miscommunication problems, but it doesn't add to the problems either.
Note: Feedburner's been working reasonably well for the last two weeks, putting links to my posts up on other blogs. Until yesterday's post. So if you got here from another blog, here's a link to yesterday's post - The World's Disappearing Wilderness - The Importance of Long Term Thinking.