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The Heart Attack Grill's owner Jon Basso tells ABC News that the woman is currently recovering in the hospital. Basso told ABC that he himself has eaten at least one single bypass burger each day since his restaurant first opened seven years ago.

The quote is from Yahoo News.

Why have they used two different tenses in the two different insantances: tells ABC; told ABC?

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Because variety is the spice of life! –  Eugene Seidel Apr 25 '12 at 4:22
    
@Eugene Nice pun, indeed. –  Kris Apr 25 '12 at 5:20
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I think the real answer is "because Yahoo! News doesn't employ copy editors." I'm guessing that the OP is not a native speaker; I would like to make it very clear that native speakers also make mistakes, and that the standards of literacy and error correction are lower on the Web than they were in print... and that newspapers have never been a shining model of correctness, either. In short: the writer should have chosen one tense and stuck to it. Consider this an example of a trap to avoid, not a model to emulate. –  MT_Head Apr 25 '12 at 5:55
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3 Answers

Nice guesses everyone, but I found a copy of the article, and this occurs in an interior paragraph. This is not a case of a headline and the start of an article.

Link: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/another-heart-attack-grill-customer-collapses-while-eating-191647836.html

News reports use the present tense like "tells" when introducing breaking new information being presented in the news story. (And since headlines introduce breaking new information, they are written that way).

"He tells us that the woman is currently recovering (news item: stuff happening now). He also told us (some personal anecodote about his life that is not so much of a news item)."

Good English or not, it's the sort of style shifting one expects from this sort of news report. It's an example of the sort of thing of which it is a representative instance. :)

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+1 for being a gumshoe. "It's an example of the sort of thing of which it is an instance." Eh? –  Eugene Seidel Apr 25 '12 at 8:30
    
Make that "representative instance" (latest edit). –  Kaz Apr 25 '12 at 8:31
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Am I missing something? It seems to me an example here means exactly the same as a representative instance - no more, and no less. So it's "an example of the sort of thing of which it is an example". I'm still trying to figure out whether that means it's an exemplar, or just that it is what it is. –  FumbleFingers Apr 25 '12 at 14:35
    
thank you all, but it more intriguing me, like a phase " a representative instance" by Kaz –  meru klang Apr 26 '12 at 3:59
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The first instance of the verb tell occurs in a title/ introductory, so appears as "tells".

The rest of the report is the body, where it appears in v. pt form told, appropriate for reported speech.

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Perhaps the update on the woman's health was obtained when the reporter was researching this story, but the quote about the daily burger eating was obtained by ABC while was doing earlier research, such as one of these:

ABC News Reports on 8000 Calorie Burger
ABC News Reports on Man Falling Ill after Eating Burger
ABC News Reports on Death of 29 Year-Old-Spokesman

This is just a theory on my part, as I could not find a reference to daily burger eating in any of those stories. However, who knows how much of the accompanying ABC video footage was left unused, only to be resurrected in this new article? That could explain the shift in tense.

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