Tuesday, November 10th, 2009
12

How Not to Write a Headline

MM HMMTom Scocca: Here is a headline from Sunday's Washington Post:
Tom Scocca: In art we lust
Tom Scocca: "At second blush, classic works are allowed to rise to their full erotic potential."
Tom Scocca: The Post is plagued by bad, amateurish, would-be-snappy headlines these days, and this one epitomizes the problem.
Tom Scocca: If you have to change two parts of a stock phrase to make your headline, you are making a dumb and clunky headline.
Tom Scocca: "In God We Trust" has nothing to do with the permeability of the barrier between "nude" and "naked" (aka "art" and "pornography").
Tom Scocca: So it's "In [WHOLLY UNRELATED WORD] we [SEMANTICALLY UNRELATED, BUT RHYMING WORD]." Half the phrase is swapped out.
Tom Scocca: If you can't do it in one step, don't do it.
Choire Sicha: Ha.

12 Comments / Post A Comment

mathnet (#27)

It's starting to make me sad that you guys leave Balk out of everything. :(

One Is Scocca And The Other's Old

jolie (#16)

Oh my God it makes me laugh and laugh. But that's mostly because I picture Balk sitting on the floor in the corner of the ApartOffice, sniffling and chewing on the leaves of Choire's ficus tree. And also because I'm so mean.

Balk is secretly a koala?
This explains so much.

garge (#736)

Ah, but koalas aren't bears … or maybe that DOES explain so much. Bear envy.

slinkimalinki (#182)

you take that back! i'm sure he's a genuine ursid, not some stinkin' koala.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

This is so true, carve it on your doorposts.

However, this kind of fall-on-your-face dumbness is still not as bad as those NY Times heads that are too long to say without stopping to take a breath and still don't manage to get the point across.

barnhouse (#1,326)

The real problem with it is that you don't lust "in," you lust "for" or "after."

Eureka Street (#1,349)

My favorites are when the replacement words get a laugh for rhyming and everything, but make the new phrase meaningless. Like someone in a review a seafood festival writing something like, "Here's cooking at you, squid."

Well, okay, I made that one up. But they do exist.

Mary HK Choi (#1,469)

Here's cooking at you, squid is so my new away message.

capbozo (#2,163)

Calamari emptor!

Frolic (#2,189)

You mean like "The United States of Arugula"?

Matt (#26)

I see what you did there?

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