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Re: "man dies in mishap"

Posted by R. Berg on July 01, 2006

In Reply to: Re: "Man dies in mishap" posted by ESC on July 01, 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.

: : : Poor choice of words. Headline writers should know better. If a man dies, the event is more than a mishap. ~rb

: : Possibly, but can you think of a better word that fits in the space?

: : (And going back to the top, getting a 'byline' is a proud moment in a journalist's career.)

: : DFG

: Journalism is full of cliches. At least in the U.S. and I'm sure it's that way elsewhere. "Grim discovery" when they find a body. And so forth.

"Possibly, but can you think of a better word that fits in the space?" Well, "Man Dies in Taffy" would fit in the space, with one letter to spare, but that's no reason to use "taffy" if it's the wrong word--if, for instance, the man didn't meet his end by falling into a vat at a confectioner's factory and getting stickied to death. The same applies to "mishap." A suitable rewrite would depend on the story. "Horse Rider Dies" or "Local Man Shot" might do. Anyway, it's not my job. ~rb