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English for Journalists, 4th Edition by Wynford Hicks

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3

Grammar: 10 common mistakes

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One of the most embarrassing letters ever to appear in a national paper was published by the Guardian in 2012 under the heading

MIGHT IS RIGHT AND A SUBEDITOR MAY BE WRONG.

It was from the atheist academic and writer Richard Dawkins:

‘If the public head of Sheffield police had been accountable to voters we may have avoided the 23 years of cover-ups,’ says a subheading (Comment, 14 September). Simon Jenkins surely knows the difference between ‘may’ and ‘might’. Subeditors jealously guard their privilege of writing headlines (as I’ve often found to my cost) but if they can’t learn their own language what is the use of them? Why not let authors write their own headlines?

For more examples ...

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