Robert Peston’s Singular Failure

Has Arsenal borrowed too much? asks the BBC’s business editor Robert Peston on his Peston Picks blog today.

It’s not his economic analysis that’s the problem, or rather his ability to read someone else’s analysis and précis it elegantly.

It’s not even the fact that he paints a gloomy picture for supporters of the greatest football club in N5.

No, his real sin is the use of the singular when describing a football team.

“Arsenal has”? It’s “Arsenal have”, Robert. Check out how every other UK media outlet does it, including your colleagues on BBC Sport. In fact, there’s a teaser, as I look, linking to your post with the heading: ‘Do Arsenal have too much debt?’  

Does it really matter? Hell, yes.

I know it goes against the grain given nearly all other organisations are referred to as single entities.

Indeed, “companies are singular” became a mantra in one newsroom I worked in. A repeat offender of this basic style rule had those words plastered on to his monitor to warn against future transgression.

But when it comes to sports, the team is everything. Hence the plural. It even applies to countries taking part in sport, so “England save the first test”, not “England saves the first test”. 

Rules is rules.


6 thoughts on “Robert Peston’s Singular Failure”

  1. Lured by the title for the latest damning verdict on the UK’s standard of financial journalism, but not at all disappointed – wonderful pedantry.

  2. What about the media?
    I have always referred to it as ‘the media is biased’ – now my colleagues in academe insist upon ‘the media are biased’.
    Where do you stand on that one eh?
    (Typical over-sensitive Gooner by the way)

  3. It’s a good challenge, freelanceunbound, but I still stand by my point of pendantry. By the way, as a sub perhaps you can rule on Charlie’s ‘Media is…’/’Media are…’ dilemma. Thoughts?

    1. Media – plural of medium. Strictly speaking. But now seen as a kind of monolithic sludge of content and distribution by most consumers, so singular would make sense as a house style decision. (I’ve even seen youngsters writing about creating media, rather than using media to distribute whatever they are creating. Barbarism…)

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