Writing headings can be (or should that be ‘once was’?) the most interesting aspect of a sub-editor’s craft, especially in printed publications where time and word/character constraints join forces to make the task just that bit more exciting.
Mostly, headings write themselves. They nail the story effectively. Feature articles give more scope for creativity. And occasionally a real beauty comes to a sub-editor’s mind on any page.
One that’s very, very clever. These rare gems shine in a dross of headings that sadly fall into the too-clever-by half category. Or simply awful. And we are not talking just of the dreadfully punny ones that appear on Mad As Hell.
And so we come to the effort (shown at top) in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.
The Glass House suspects that somewhere in Sydney last night, a sub-editor tucked themselves into beddy-byes thinking they’d been really exceptionally clever, possibly bordering on genius, with this heading and wondering what other two efforts will give them Walkley award glory later this year.
We suspect they would be of a certain age to remember that an American sitcom called The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air screened in the US from 1990 to 1996. It launched Will Smith, moderately successful rapper The Fresh Prince in the late 1980s, into ongoing Hollywood super stardom.
Armed with this knowledge, this sub clearly was determined to work that into the heading for a story about the upcoming interview “Prince” Harry and Meghan Windsor will be doing with Oprah Winfrey shortly. We say “Prince” because the media keep insisting on calling Harry that.
Does this heading work? On any real level?
Perhaps The Glass House should do a poll among the washed-up, ex-hack subs who seem to make up most of this column’s readership. We suspect some will rate it from okay to rather good. We’re hoping most will say it’s trying way too hard so it’s gone over into the too-smart by half or just bloody awful basket case.
We suspect it lands in this last category because “Fresh prince..” really doesn’t nail who “Prince” Harry was and still is.
“… and his belle air … “ Hmmm? Yeah?
At least they gave it their best shot.
Maybe “Prince won’t mince his words since royal demotion?
Or just some standard, no-nonsense, says-it-all heading for a news page?
The Glass House is reluctant to have some fun with what is truly a fantastic community paper, The Byron Bay Echo.
This fair and reasonable paper (read more leftwing than right) continues to thrive after local rivals – close by and not too far away in the Northern Rivers – were axed by the Dirty Digger, Rupert Murdoch.
Still, this little example of letters transposed from this week’s edition shows that subs everywhere still work to deadlines and with probably too much on their plate.
And on the front page, too. Ouch!