Sunday, August 30, 2009

How not to write a headline - press release edition

Early last week, I signed up for the mailing list of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). I didn't expect much, but since I live in the North Indian Bend Wash Superfund site (NIBW), it's a good idea to gather info from as many sources as possible.

What I didn't expect was a bit of unintentional humor.

One of the first press releases that I received had this for a subject line -
ADEQ Director Grumbles, Host of Other Water Experts to Speak at Arizona Investment Council Water Symposium

Now, my first reaction upon reading that, wiseass that I am, was to wonder "You'd think that one of the job requirements for the head of a state agency would be the ability to enunciate clearly. I mean, he must have been able to do so at least once, at his job interview, right?"

Turns out that instead of reading the word "Grumbles" as a verb, I should have read it as a proper name.

The Director of ADEQ is named Benjamin Grumbles.

Ooops. :)

For the record, Director Grumbles probably enunciates quite clearly. According to his ADEQ bio page, he has degrees in English, Law, and Environmental Law, and worked as a Congressional committee staffer and a college instructor prior to a stint as a Bush appointee to the EPA.

In my defense, the capitalization pattern of the headline didn't really give any clues to the fact that "Grumbles" is a proper name. Any word longer than two letters was capitalized.

Of course, given Director Grumbles' educational background in English and law, and his professional background, the communications guy/intern/chief cook and bottle washer who wrote the headline has probably been advised to do something with future headlines to minimize the confusion.

Of course2, this blog post, humble though it may be, is probably the most public notice that ADEQ has received in weeks, so we may see more of this.

Note: the original press release publicized a symposium in Tucson sponsored by the Arizona Investment Council. It was held this past Friday.

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