Friday, September 16, 2005

One word does make a difference

Consider this Wall Street Journal lede:

Two federal lawsuits show that, with the U.S. theater industry consolidating and moving attendance dropping, exhibitors are fighting with each other over who gets first dibs on major Hollywood releases.

OK, stop. Did you momentarily think, based on the first few words of that lede, that it was the government somehow involved in this lawsuit.

Actually, it's a couple of theater chains fighting it out in federal court, and therein lies the problem: a "federal lawsuit" is different from a "federal court lawsuit."

Moral: Use all the words necessary to make it clear, especially in ledes.

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