Posted by Bob on July 01, 2006
In Reply to: "Man dies in mishap" posted by Victoria S Dennis on June 30, 2006
: : : Does anyone know when and where the newspaper byline "man dies in mishap" originated? I found a dead man when I was a kid, and that was the byline in local paper. I did a web search and found that this is an oft-used byline. Any help? Jonathan
: : I can't tell you anything more than that this is a headline, not a byline. A newspaper story or article typically has a heading, which is called a HEADLINE. Sometimes it's in very large type and boldface, but more often it's not. "Man dies in mishap" is typical, in that it uses the minimum of words to convey the essence of the story, uses the present tense, and refers to an event of a distressingly common type. Some stories, but not all, also have a BYLINE, that is, a LINE stating BY whom the story was written. This is usually found immediately below the headline.
: : SS
: It could possibly also be a cliche, in the literal sense, which is "a line of type kept set up ready for use by printers". If the newspaper kept this line of type ready for use, then whenever there was an accidental death in their area they had a headline ready to use.
You have to assume that if there are 50,000 fatal mishaps every year (say), and a few thousand newspapers to report it, the zillions of headlines, which all have to report the facts in a few words ... well, do the math. Thousands would read "man dies in mishap." An equal number would read "area citizen murdered" or "local man beheaded" or whatever, but by the numbers, this is not at all unusual.