The BBC’s England news feed drives me mad. Why? Have a look at these recent headlines:

  • Man charged over city sex attacks
  • £4.5m restoration of city’s parks
  • City’s health trusts are merged
  • City tram makes first big profit
  • Girl, 16, hurt in city shooting
  • Blaze at city fireworks warehouse
  • Two hurt in city centre stabbings
  • Officers hunt city centre gunman
  • City’s ‘new-look’ square delayed
  • Thousands at city’s anti-war demo
  • Crisis website keeps city moving
  • Peace protesters set up city camp
  • Investigation after city stabbing
  • Electrical fault halts city trams
  • Moves to protect city’s skyline
  • Boy ‘executed’ in city shooting

I could go on, but I won’t. Until you read the article summary, you don’t know which city is being referred to. In the above headlines, ‘city’ refers to Sheffield and Bristol (surely that should be ‘cities’), Newcastle, Bristol, Nottingham, Manchester, Bradford, Birmingham, Nottingham, Nottingham, Manchester, London, Manchester, Nottingham, Nottingham, Newcastle, and Manchester respectively.

They are the kind of headlines that would work in a local newspaper—in fact, it’s obvious that they are just transferred verbatim from the regional divisions—but they are frustratingly uninformative in a national context.