How not to frame

BBC – don’t do that. Use your heads. Have some god damn sense.

Don’t do that headline.

Uber banned in Delhi over taxi driver ‘rape’

Yes I get that scare quotes take up less space in a headline than “alleged” – but that’s not a good enough reason to use them. Don’t do that.

Authorities in the Indian capital, Delhi, have banned international taxi-booking service Uber after a driver allegedly raped a female passenger.

A transport department official said the company had been “blacklisted” for “misleading customers”.

The 26-year-old woman used the smartphone app to book a taxi home on Friday but says she was taken to a secluded area and raped.

The driver has been remanded in custody for three days.

He was arrested on Sunday and appeared in court on Monday afternoon.

He hasn’t been convicted. I get that. But don’t call it a ‘rape’ in the headline. Scare quotes are not the equivalent of “alleged” and they’re not a good substitute for it.



  1. elephantasy says

    BBC headlines often have quotes like that. They always look like scare quotes to me, but I think they are just quotes. I saw an article about a missing man ‘found dead’; can’t be too much doubt that the man was found dead, so it looked weird, but they were merely quoting the report.

  2. quixote says

    Yes, that’s puzzled me too about BBC headlines. They’re doing it constantly, in almost every headline. For instance, today, “Hands on with a ‘friendly’ robot.”

    They’re not likely to be sued over calling the robot friendly. Although it does always look like headlinese for It’s-not-our-fault-that’s-what-he-said.”

    And they indeed shouldn’t do that in the horrible Uber situation.

  3. RJW says

    Both commas and quotation marks are completely out of control.
    ‘Alleged rape’ (without the quotation marks) would have been correct, ‘rape’ (with quotation marks) has a totally different meaning as it implies that word is not to be interpreted literally. I can’t see how the term ‘scare’ is relevant.

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