Friday, October 2, 2009

The temptations of headline-writing

Back in the '80s, when I was learning the trade, my boss was an energetic Scot with a droll wit. He kept us in stitches by writing snarky, painfully alliterative and punny headlines making fun of the client's content.

But we never actually used them, of course.

Today the paper offers us several examples of over-the-top headline-writing:

Exercise instructor makes the stretch to open Pilates studio
Police need help smoking out cigarette thief
Fossil Creek fish flap comes to a head Saturday
PV resident raises stink over skunks
Glass business owner casts stones

They're all very cute -- the Fossil Creek example is even multilevel, working in "fish ... head" while subtly referencing the headwater chub in the story -- and I'm sure there were chuckles around the newsroom on a slow day. (Seems like most days have been pretty slow this week.) But rather than sparking up the paper with the spirit of fun, publishing them just indicates a bored editor convinced of his mental superiority and lacking respect for his copy or his customers at the helm. The last one above even manages to directly insult the letter-writer.

Bad form, boys. Keep it on the sports page, where it belongs.

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