Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sometimes writing is just basic stuff

A funny line we can learn from, at AP's expense. A friend of mine flagged this in a wire story about the chimpanzee that attacked a woman:

After the initial attack, Travis ran away and started roaming Herold's property until police arrived, setting up security so medics could reach the critically injured woman, Conklin said.

What that says is that the chimp attacked the woman, then set up security. So the chimp first tried to kill the woman, then tried to help save her. It's just a reminder to be careful that unless you make it clear who's doing what, every action in the sentence will be attributed to the subject.

That sentence should have read: "After the initial attack, Travis ran away and started roaming Herold's property until police arrived and set up security so medics could reach the critically injured woman."

Or: "After the initial attack, Travis ran away and started roaming Herold's property until police arrived. They set up security so medics could reach the critically injured woman."

There are probably other options, but you get the idea.