More headlines

I wrote the other day about how headline-writing can be difficult when a story begs a punchline.

Copy editors are told to resist them. Sometimes we don’t resist them.

I remember Wes‘ editing a story about some people who didn’t want a hot dog restaurant in their neighborhood. I saw him chuckling next to me.

He was typing ‘Neighborhood fears the wurst.’

In Chicago, when O.J. wrote his first book, “I Want to Tell You,” a Tribune editor breached ethics and wrote “O.J. takes a stab at writing.”

I once edited a story about a library literacy program that was merging with Alcoholics Anonymous. I did not write ‘Gin and phonics.’

And for a story about the annual rodeo’s being canceled, because the middle school built an audio/visual center in the lot the city used, I did not write ‘Video killed the rodeo star.’

On my last of work as a copy editor at The Press, I edited a story about a guy who ran what he called ‘The Disneyland of cemeteries.’ He had little concrete forest creatures,  benches, wishing wells. There was even merry music piped about.

My final headline before I turned in my key to the newsroom for a five-year stint as a stay-at-home mom: The happiest place in earth.

I couldn’t resist.

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4 Responses to “More headlines”

  1. Jeremy A. Says:

    Two things I dislike about Newspapers limiting in a writer’s story: Ethics and Punchline Headlines.
    Apparently there are more limitations to Freedom of Speech than I knew existed.
    So how did our Founding Fathers come up with Freedom of Speech and the Right to Remain Silent?

  2. T. Says:

    Oh Jeremy, this has nothing to do with free speech. Constitutionally, I have the right to put any headline I want on any story. Constitutionally, I have the right to write unbalanced, inaccurate stories with unfair presentation. The only thing I can’t do by law is libel someone.
    The punchlines are bound by appropriateness of tone. Because I so value the freedom of speech, I show respect to the medium. I match the tone to the story. Alcoholism is serious. Murder is serious. It’s disrespectful to be funny, tempting though it is.
    When I write features headlines, that’s when I get to fling the punchlines. To every headline there is a season.
    And if you really want to ask me how our founding fathers came up with the freedom of speech, you’re in for a long afternoon.
    I know the answer to that.

  3. Jeremy A. Says:

    “To every headline there is a season.”

    To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
    There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
    And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

    “And if you really want to ask me how our founding fathers came up with the freedom of speech, you’re in for a long afternoon.”

    I got plenty of open afternoons.

  4. roberto Says:

    More punny headlines, please!

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