Thursday, November 6, 2008

Whine, whine, whine

C: I wanted to let you know that I was very disappointed in todays headline. I was wanting to keep todays paper for its historical value. Instead of it saying something like "History is Made" or "First African American Elected President" it says "Barack Rolls". Im sorry, but I really don't even know what that means. Todays paper should have had a much more powerful headline and I think you really blew it with this. There is nothing here that makes me believe that anyone won the presidency. I mean, did he make "rolls", did he "roll" down a hill. Please do better in the future to keep me with your paper. - D.K.

A: For such an event that occurs shortly before press time, the headline writer strives for brevity: short words that can describe the event in very large type - large enough to be seen in a vending machine from across the street. But "Obama wins" doesn't cut it, because it's boring and doesn't describe the degree of victory. To roll, or cruise to victory is more descriptive. There's also a subliminal connection between "Barack rolls" to "rock 'n' roll."

I've said this many times before: We are in the business of selling newspapers. We wouldn't be in business at all if our objective was to create nostalgic keepsakes for scrapbooks.


Ellipses said...

You just got Rick Roll'd


Anonymous said...

did you see the lines of people waiting to buy the New York Times yesterday? And the post gazette announced it is printing 25,000 more copies of YESTERDAY's paper to be sold. sounds like a money-maker to me. i wouldn't underestimate the historical value newspapers still hold.

Park Burroughs said...

Good point. The P-G dedicated its entire front page to the presidential election, which made an impressive display, despite a yawner of a headline: 'Historic wave sweeps Obama to victory."
Our situation was complicated by another important - and tragic - news event that also deserved front-page play: the accident on I-70 that claimed two lives, including that of a 27-year-old South Strabane police officer and volunteer fireman.

Brant said...

Park has very accurately captured my thought process when I wrote the headline. He even caught the rock 'n' roll connection. I was hoping somebody would. I've written thousands of headlines. Not everybody will "get" them all or find them suitable. That's OK. We'll have a whole new batch of them for you tomorrow. That's the beauty of working for a daily newspaper. We'll try our best today, and if we don't meet an individual reader's standards or expectations, there's always the hope that we can do better, or differently, tomorrow. Even the people I work for aren't always thrilled with my headlines. A while back, when a snowstorm made a mess of people's Valentine's Day plans, I wrote the headline, "Crappy Valentine's Day." I thought it was good. More than a few readers told me they liked it. But the folks who run the place? Not so much. You can't please all of the people all of the time, but I do try to keep the folks who sign the paychecks happy. ;)