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September 12, 2013


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Michael Teter

One possibility is that the headline was worded so as to avoid confusion with University of Washington (or some other affiliation with Washington State).

Of course, as a native (west) coaster, I would suggest that you just be satisfied that the papers acknowledged the existence of the Midwest.


What's a "midwest"? To us, there are two regions of the United States: Boston and New York.

Michael Teter

As I understand it, ESPN, a "midwest" is a grouping of people who were attempting to escape the east coast for the west, but ran out of gas half way there.


Many readers would be surprised and confused that there is a "Washington University" that is neither in Washington State nor the District of Columbia. Even if the qualifier "of St. Louis" were added, they would not be quite sure what state that was in. The headline writer is giving the reader some credit, however, referring to a state called "Missouri" without further clarification that the state is located "in the Midwest."


The SF article is actually a nice article, and I assure you if the paper had said, "Wash. U," at least 75% of the readers would have assumed it was a reference to its bitter northern rival where the Seahawks will get trampled this weekend. This is actually a significant problem for Wash U. generally, though my sense is they have made strides on establishing their brand over the last decade.


"Wash U Law School Dean to Lead Syracuse University" would have worked just fine. So a handful of people would have been confused for a nanosecond until they read the second sentence of the article (" . . . said Syverud, dean of the School of Law at Washington University in St. Louis . . . "). Anyone who bases his or her knowledge of current events on news headlines (and not reading the underlying articles) deserves the confusion that would have ensued.

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