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Public editor: Clichés drive readers up the wall

This headline drew a complaint from a reader.

The Globe and Mail

Clichés and overblown rhetoric drive some readers up the wall. Okay, that was both a cliché and overblown, but you get the point.

I've had a couple of e-mails from readers over the past week who were so annoyed that they took pen to paper (yes another cliché) – hands to keyboards anyway – to complain about these following phrases:

"This is the insane way Whistler protects you from avalanches." That's the headline on this video.

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A Victoria reader pleaded: "Please tell me you're not slipping into Upworthy-CNN headlines. What's insane about it? Looks to me like professional avalanche controllers doing their job. With small explosives. Should they be using artillery from the middle of the village? Should they leave the snow buildup as it is, and let it kill people? What next? 'Harper meets Mulcair and you won't believe what happens next!' 'This puppy's reaction will melt your heart!' "

Actually, I think I've seen that puppy headline, but not in The Globe and Mail.

Or how about this one: "Candidates drop the gloves in Toronto's first 2014 mayoral debate." That's the headline on this video.

Personally, I think boxing metaphors in politics are overused. Throw your hat in the ring, knockout punch, pulled his/her punch etc.

But for one Toronto reader, this headline really set his teeth on edge (okay, one last cliché). "Spare me. This is perhaps the single most tiresome, lazy cliché of political reporting. There's a debate; the candidates actually disagree with each other. Just what you should expect. But then some headline writer says, Hoo Boy, and amps it up into a bare-knuckle fight."

I'm always happy to hear from you on the good, the bad and the ugly (can't help myself) of what you read in The Globe. publiceditor@globeandmail.com

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About the Author
Public Editor

Sylvia Stead has been a reporter and editor at the Globe since 1975, after graduating from the University of Western Ontario in Journalism with a minor in Political Science. She won the Board of Governors Award there in 1974. As a reporter, Sylvia covered courts, education and Queen's Park. More

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