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Newspaper headlineWriting newspaper headlines is clearly an art. If there’s a big story, then a simple factual statement is all that’s required. But what do you do if it’s a slow news week? This must be a particular problem for local papers. All credit, then, to the Oxford Mail & Times, who consistently rise to the challenge posed by this particular dilemma.

This week’s Oxford Times is a case in point. “Hospital Site Set to Reveal 700 Bodies!”, it screams. Is the NHS about to be overtaken by yet another scandal? Well, actually no.

… * and this is where I got into a tangle with the original version of this blog entry … in my enthusiasm to scale the heights of professional journalism I had not checked my facts by reading the story behind  the headline, but simply assumed that there was only one Oxford hospital where large quantities of human remains were currently being uncovered. Easy mistake.

I had thought that the story must be about the leper hospital that was founded by Henry I in eleventy something. In fact, this story  relates to the Radcliffe Infirmary (founded in 1758 and named after Dr John Radcliffe, a physician to Queen Anne ; not to be confused with the John Radcliffe Hospital, opened 1972 and named after … erm … Dr John Radcliffe).

And the moral of this story is – don’t take newspaper headlines at face value.

Mind you, the Oxford Times has form in this department. These, after all, are the people who gave us “Fish Bites Man” and (my personal fave) “Archbishop Backs Nuns in Pub Fight”.

Links : Radcliffe InfirmaryJohn Radcliffe Hospital, Bartlemas Chapel and Leper Hospital