Giving good headline #3

lessons in journalism


For this issue, The Bug is indebted to that tool … sorry, that fine organ of daily metropolitan newspaper excellence, The Courier-Mail … for today’s lesson on how to use people’s names well in headings.

And not just that masthead generally … today’s examples come from just one edition, Friday’s! And over a mere three pages of sport.

Firstly, let us explain the use of names. Take Goodes for example in his days when Adam was still a player in the  AFL and Eddie McGuire thought he’d make a star turn in any King Kong remake.

Swans shows it has the Goodes passes muster as a names wordplay. The team has the Goodes and the goods.

In today’s rushed newspaper environment where subs, where they still exist, are flat-strapped and often inexperienced, something like Swans sweat on Goodes performance would pass muster too.

For something more topical, how about It’s Barty time at Wimbledon? Or Welcome to the Barty? They are quite okay. But how often does a really good Barty like that come along? Once every 43 years?

But let’s see what happens if our new world No 1 ashes out …. sorry, crashes out… in the next day or so. Will we see Wimbledon all Bartyied out somewhere? Probably. Not the best, is it?

Which brings us to today’s first example from the Courier: How to Bern $81k quickly

See, when you’re a gun sub or even a young sub under the gun, it’s not just surnames that can be used to withering effect. Bernard Tomic becomes Bern, which sounds the same as burn, does it not?heads bern

The Bug’s editors – who hark back to a time when they subbed maybe a dozen stories a shift between drinks – appreciate it’s no longer beer and skittles for the subbing class.

So this newpaper doesn’t want to be too critical of this effort, considering it might have been written by someone in a subbing pod in Outer Uzbekistan where English is not even a second language and they were allotted just five minutes to sub the piece and provide the headline before being whipped.

And while the subbing class from a bygone era might titter, it’s fine in a quality tabloid – sorry, compact – such as The Courier-Mail.

And all these plays on words become rather exciting, don’t they? Bet you’re right now thinking of what else sounds the same as or rhymes with Bern that you could one day use if you ever became the Courier’s sports sub. Learn. Fern. Kern.

But let’s now look at two other examples in Friday’s Courier sports pages that push past the acceptable to the bizarre or illogical. And are not very clever or punny.heads parr

We all get the heading at right straight away: Parr and par are pronounced the same. That’s goode… I mean good … in itself.

But the heading actually tells us that a Cowboys official named Parr is actually much better than himself, which is really quite silly.

If the sub had simply used Cowboys official is well above par we would have got it just as well. Silently congratulated the sub for knowing Parr and par exist and having fun with that. And, besides, it would be a much better heading.

And now we come to an absolute cracker.

Quickly now: what rhymes with Cori?

Story. Glory. Storey. Dory.

Well, that’s all our Courier sub needed to come up with this:

heads cori

It’s a classic example of trying to think of a clever heading and it all just becomes too clever by half. Or just plain silly.

When you’re working this hard, The Bug always recommends that subs should think of the crap and poo rule.

Just like Cori and glory, crap and poo are two distinctively different words yet when all is said and done, they still amount to the same bucketload of shit.