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I'm a network field producer who also worked in local tv as a line producer and field producer. Over the years, I have had the great fortune to work with super people. Now I'd like to pass along what I know and rant a tad.

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Maggie L

Maggie L
One of the rare times I'm in the office

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Depends on what the meaning of "is" is

Lately, I have been frothed up over the sorry state of the verb "to be." Many newscasts are omitting it and I'm having a difficult time understanding why.

"Hurricane Dean is barreling toward the coast."
"Hurricane Dean barreling toward the coast."

The latter is not a sentence, it's a headline and has no place in television news. I hear this "is" omission more and more often and it drives me to drink. I think producers and writers who do this must think it makes their copy more punchy and colloquial.

Here's why they're wrong:

1. Nobody talks in headlines. "Mom! Frederick racing to the airport!" Absurd.
2. Do you really gain that much by dropping one little word? But what you lose is grammatical accuracy, which is already a rare find in TV news.

Perhaps the people who do this are confusing this type of writing with active voice.
A refresher:
Active- "Rescue crews are rushing patients to the hospital."
Not Active- "Patients are being rushed to the hospital by rescue crews."
Just plain bad- "Rescue crews rushing patients to the hospital."

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