Headline inadvertently demeans the AIP grant for the Chandler Airport

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Federal Grants To Spruce Up Airports In Chandler, Statewide

AIP money being spent on important projects

Not just Sprucing up


In today’s crowded media arena, headlines attract readers/clicks. Choosing the right word may increase the numbers of people who turn to your text. Frequently, the headline writer is not the same person as the author of the article.

This headline upsets my sensibilities—why?

Because the title uses the phrase “Spruce Up!! As a stickler for careful word choice, the two words mean:

 to make (someone or something) look cleaner, neater, or more attractive

We spruced up the room with a fresh coat of paint.

I need to spruce myself up a bit before we go out to dinner

The actual wording in the body of the article is absolutely spot on:


The Federal Aviation Administration is awarding Chandler a grant of up to $3.7 million dollars to repave parts of the city’s airport.


Or as described in more detail:


“The pavement they are seeking the grant for is on our ‘Grand Central Station,’” said Chris Andres, the Chandler Airport administrator. “It’s one of the busiest parts of airport in terms of aircraft circulation. And it’s some of our most heavily used pavement.”


So, what’s the problem?

The average taxpayer wants her/his hard-earned money spent on important projects. The FAA grant under AIP at Chandler Airport is being expended on an important safety and capacity project.  Refurbishing 91,000 square yards of the tarmac dedicated to parking aircraft is an expenditure which will satisfy the hardest of fiscal hawk.

As someone scans the headlines, “Sprucing Up” probably causes a person on a fixed income to question why an airport needs to look cleaner, neater or attractive. It is a small point, but in writing a headline, care should be taken not to create an impression that AIP funds are being used for “superficial” changes to the airport. These $3.7 million dollars are being spent for important safety improvements. The selection of this project was subject to careful planning locally, subjected to rigorous qualification criteria and ranked against other possible use of this money.

That is not “spruced up”; the words unintentionally suggest that the grant is not a careful use of these tax dollars.

Sorry, but words mean something!!!




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