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Could somebody explain to me the absence of any articles before "Head" and "wife"?

Head of the Zaporizhia Roma Center "Lacho Drom" and wife of a local anti-corruption activist Konstantin Belov was stabbed in the heart at an apartment block outside her apartment earlier today, local police say.

"Head" and "wife" are, definitely, nouns and countable. So why no articles?

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    It's a mistake. This lack of articles would be expected if the sentence were a news story headline, but as part of the body, it should have articles. – Juhasz Oct 31 '19 at 16:03
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    I think mistake implies that it was non-intentional, I would say it was more of a journalistic style choice. Usually journalists like to cut words to make the read more snappy and immediate. (In general, don't look too closely at news stories for "good" English writing) – Bee Oct 31 '19 at 16:20
  • Does it mean it's possible to omit articles in some styles? And it would be still a correct English? – Dmitry Oct 31 '19 at 16:32
  • @Dmitry All large news media organisations have style guides specifying acceptable and unacceptable words/phrases/expressions and constructions. In my experience (I worked for 2 of them) they are more concerned with getting the news across than perfectly grammatical prose. – Ronald Sole Oct 31 '19 at 18:43
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In a journalistic style, a noun phrase used in this way, identifying a following proper noun, is sometimes used without an article. It would not be appropriate in more formal writing.

Examples:

Chair John Fox says it is business as usual ... (Ripon Gazette, 31/10/2019)

( "Chair" is never used as a title, so this must be a description).

Deputy assistant commissioner for the Met, Laurence Taylor, said ... (Harrogate Advertiser, 31/10/2019)

Note that this is different from the omission of articles in headlines, because it requires that the phrase be used to explain or identify somebody or something named. Without the name, it can be used in headlines:

Chair of committee says that ...

but would not be used in that way in the body of an article.

Not all newspapers use this format: I couldn't find an example in today's The Guardian or The Mirror, only in these local papers.

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In this case, if "the" was employed, it would imply that two separate people were stabbed. The way I read it is that the woman who was stabbed (who is oddly not named) is both the:

Head of the Zaporizhia Roma Center "Lacho Drom"

and also the:

wife of a local anti-corruption activist Konstantin Belov

If "the" were used before either or both descriptors, it might confuse the reader as to who or how many people were stabbed. And as others have pointed out it is somewhat "journalistic" English, in that it's not the way anyone would speak, or write in a formal text, however that doesn't mean it is "wrong."

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  • But now I'm confused! Without articles is a "journalistic" style, with an article are two people. What article should be in a "good" style to remain clear that only one woman was wounded? – Dmitry Nov 1 '19 at 15:09
  • In general, unless you're writing news stories, use the articles. However in this particular case writing "The XXX and the XXX" could imply two people. For any style of writing I would not use the second "the" just the first, at the beginning of the sentence. Hope that helps! – B. Findlay Nov 2 '19 at 22:40

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