Use the right words for the greatest impact

Pinus ponderosa subsp. ponderosa branch with cones
Image via Wikipedia

A headline’s purpose is to catch the reader’s eye and interest. A poorly written headline can have the same effect.

Bark beetle kill has little affect on fire danger

Of course, it would have little affect (while it might be expected to have an effect or maybe an impact).

Curious about what else I might find, I moved beyond the headline to the first paragraph of the story in this Colorado daily newspaper.

The first paragraph said:

Though bark beetles are marching into lower elevations and killing ponderosa pines in the foothills of Larimer County, the smattering of dead trees they’ve left behind during the last year or two are likely to have little impact on the upcoming forest fire season.

The good news: Impact was used correctly for once.

The bad? There is a smattering of grammar skills where much more is needed.

That smattering of dead trees is (not “are”) likely to have little impact.

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