I just wrote a message to BBC news. They’ve got a number of pages where one can send comments or corrections in regards to different aspects of their site. I used the Style, accuracy and grammar page because it is a style issue:
I enjoy the news coverage on your site and often visit to get a different perspective than my local Canadian news offers. There’s something odd, however. I do not understand the use of single quotes in many of your article titles. For example:
CSI show ‘most popular in world’
Crystal skulls ‘are modern fakes’
I’ve never seen such use of quotes before. I can understand it with this title:
Mars lander is ‘in good health’
I know a machine can’t be healthy or ill, so the quotes indicate a looser meaning or a euphemism. This only happens infrequently however. Most of the time the words are meant to say exactly what they do say and the quotes seem to serve no purpose whatsoever.
Take this title:
Rural homes ‘lead broadband UK’
Should I believe the rural homes don’t really lead? it doesn’t make sense that way so what does it mean?
I’d love to know because it drives me to distraction.
To my great amusement, the page on which one enters one’s comments states that the BBC may publish the message or reply by e-mail if that’s more appropriate. They make clear that they promise no responses, however. That’s fair. Once you send your comments, the page that appears thanks you for taking the time to send your thoughts. It also includes a notice that makes sound far less likely that you will hear from them. I was amused.
We’ll see. I really would love to hear why they do this because it’s ridiculously annoying and seems to serve no purpose. No other news service does it.