Frustrating stories with no ending

WHAT could be worse than not getting a birthday wish? Being bombarded with phoney blessings on the day of my birth really does it for me. I got a few of those on Tuesday.

WHAT could be worse than not getting a birthday wish? Being bombarded with phoney blessings on the day of my birth really does it for me. I got a few of those on Tuesday.

The first came from a soft-drinks company. "Hey Thabo, surprised we remembered your birthday?"

By the time the cellphone company that has been ripping me off for more than a decade sent its own patronising message, I was livid. You could almost see the anger ooze from my pores when I answered a call, only to find it was its rival wanting a bit of my flesh.

The suitor, which somehow manages to combine the incongruous words "virgin" and "mobile", saw in my birthday the opportune moment to lure me to its lair.

I firmly turned down its object of temptation - petite, gorgeous and untouched as it was. No virgins, please. I'm 46, I barked.

The Protection of Personal Information Bill can't pass into law fast enough for some of us. Perhaps it will put a stop to audacious telemarketers who see nothing wrong with hounding people on their anniversary days.

Of course we still need to resolve some problematic provisions in the bill that hamper journalists.

What I really wanted to address this week are inconclusive stories and funny headlines. It is really frustrating to read an interesting article in a newspaper and get so hooked on the story that you don't miss its subsequent twists and turns. Then everything just goes dead without a resolution.

A glaring example is the SA Airlink plane crash in Durban on September 24. I don't know about you but the last time I read, heard or saw anything about it was when the pilot, Captain Allister Freeman, sadly died several weeks ago.

How about an update on Rodell Oosthuizen, the flight attendant, and Abraham Mthethwa, the street cleaner, who were also seriously injured?

Equally frustrating are reports about the frequent crime blitzes so loved by our police.

Have you ever wondered what happens to the many alleged suspects who are nabbed during such road blocks and raids?

There's a great opportunity here for a young, enterprising reporter to make a mark by methodically checking how many of the highly publicised busts actually go to court - let alone lead to a conviction.

Still on the police, it is about time we buried the controversy over who actually coined the infamous "shoot-to-kill" slogan.

National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele has washed his hands of any responsibility for the slogan in the wake of the deadly blunders by his men. He has also sought to absolve President Jacob Zuma.

It would indeed be nice if the reporters who were present when the three deadly words were uttered produced the incontrovertible proof that will lay the argument to rest.

Coming to funny headlines, Sowetan really put its foot in it this week. "Cops shoot dead toddler" screamed its front page on Tuesday.

A reader has correctly pointed out that it should have read "Cops shoot toddler dead". The word "dead" in the headline is adjectival; it describes the baby who was shot. In this case it means the cops shot a dead baby, when what the headline writer meant was that the baby was shot and died as a result.

After failing to convince one of the seniors of this glaring bloomer I turned to Andrew van der Spuy, who heads the linguistics department at Wits University.

The academic, who has worked as professional copy editor, says the headline describes a child who was shot.

It means the police shot a dead child.

That should settle the argument.