Something I like to do at work is look at the front of the newspaper, and read the headlines and leads, to see if there is something worth reading. While doing this last night, I had to do a double-take on two leads that seemed to make no sense whatsoever. Grammatically, these leads had nothing wrong with them, but on the level of the average reader doing a quick scan, they are completely confusing.
Lead 1: Maine welcomes Blackstone Accelerates Growth, which earmarks $3 million for innovators.
Lead 2: The Monthly Art Walk converges with Occupy Maine to create a boisterous, bustling downtown.
According to Grammar, these two sentences are correct. The name of a program, Blackstone Accelerates Growth; an event, the Monthly Art Walk; and the name of a group, Occupy Maine, were all capitalized correctly, and nothing else is needed. The problem I have with this is based more on the way a reader will see it; not whether the writer is following the rules.
When you try to draw a reader into an article, the lead has to be both precise, and easy to understand, for the quick scanners. The average reader doesn’t analyze the lead to see where words have been capitalized, to signify names. When I first read these, I had never heard of the company Blackstone, nor have I heard of Occupy Maine.
If I were the one writing these leads, I would have put in a more foolproof way of understanding them by a further separation; and I would have stayed in the rules. Here are my changes.
Lead 1: Maine welcomes “Blackstone Accelerates Growth”, which earmarks $3 million for innovators.
Lead 2: “The Monthly Art Walk” converges with “Occupy Maine” to create a boisterous, bustling downtown.
If you noticed, I didn’t change one word, or the meaning. I just added quote marks around the names to draw them out, and let readers know what they are looking at.
If the writer of these leads would have done this, I might have been compelled to read the articles to find out why these names are so important. Best of all, he wouldn’t be breaking the ten commandments of writing.