Raymond misreads newspaper headlines, episode 2

I have a strange tendency to misread newspaper headlines. This week, I read the headline Rogan Sets 200 Back World Record, and I thought, "There's a world record for running 200 meters backward?"

Well, actually there is, but this article was actually about the 200 meter backstroke (swimming).

Once I figured that out, I was not confused by the next headline: Lochte Sets 100 IM World Record.

Comments (13)
  1. Nathan_works says:

    I wonder what chat program he was using, or he’s got great fingers for his phone…

  2. Gabe says:

    I always confuse Instant Messaging and Intermediate Medley.

  3. High School Reporter says:

    Headline-ese is silly. Just change the font size and word spacing to make it fit.

  4. Wang-Lo says:

    Actual headline from the Detroit Free Press circa 1971:


    Very few readers could determine from the headline what the article was about — Freon eroding the ozone layer.  In other words, scientists fear that the gas in spray-cans is a time-bomb for all life.  But the DFP deems the word "scientists" much too long to be in large type.

    Oh, well, I suppose it seduced some people into reading the paper, which is after all the main purpose of a headline.


  5. Josh says:

    I can’t say that I’ve ever referred to instant messaging as such, or even heard it called that outside of TV.  It’s alway "MSN"ing or "ICQ"ing depending on the application in question.  

  6. David Brooks says:

    Sometimes these are intentional, as in my local paper years back: "Selectmen sort through trash options". The editor told me she preferred "rummage" but the headline length thing stopped that.

  7. Bryn says:

    Weird, I’ve never heard of anyone over 10 years old swimming a 100 IM, and I don’t recall ever seeing the 25 meter pool to do it in. I wonder if anyone can just walk in to the "short course swimming world championships" and jump in the pool for a race.

  8. LOLcat says:


    The next logical step was, of course:


    And thus LOLcat was born.

  9. Bryn says:


    That’ll teach me to do my research after posting. In the US, we generally swim in 25 yard pools, but nearly all of our major competitions (all that i’ve been to) are in 50m pools. I suppose it’s ironic in this context because I used to complain that the damn european’s were making us swim in 50m pools. I just assumed they were all 50m and not 25m. Either way, the 100 IM stops being an event after the 8-10 age group. As for speed, I’m fairly certain I can still push a 100 (yard) IM in under a minute easily, but you’re right, I would be beaten fairly badly.

    The point I was trying to make was that I don’t believe that "short course" world records are nearly as contested as olympic course world records. Especially for an event that is impossible to swim in a 50m pool. It’s not surprising to me that those records fall so easily when a slippery new suit comes out.

    Pre-emptive return to stupidity: IM has always meant individual medley to me, I’m not sure how raymond could have mis-understood that headlne.

  10. DC says:


    What kind of wondering is that? you clearly don’t know what you are talking about. As someone who swims every day on a 25 meter pool:

    * maybe in the US you have too much space and can afford all pools to be 50 m, but in Spain 25m pools are far more usual than 50m ones.

    * I challenge you to just jump in the pool for such a race next to one of the guys who participated in the championship. I am quite sure you will still be swimming the first 25m that he/she will have already finished.

  11. David Walker says:

    "Musharraf swears in Pakistan cabinet full of foes"

    From the Language Log site: "Ampersand asterisk star lightning bolt, you percent sign spiral thingy ministers!"


  12. JamesW says:

    My favourite sports headline was about Scottish football:

    "Super Cally Go Ballistic, Celtic are Atrocious"


    I found some more when checking the above headline:

    About lack of library services in Essex:

    "Book Lack in Ongar"

    On the polar explorer, Dr Vivian Fuchs, setting off on a new expedition:


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