sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Bad headline of the day: "Soldier killed in wreck had ties to Iraq."

The story then opens: The paratrooper who died in a training accident at Fort Bragg earlier this week was a veteran of the war in Iraq, the Department of Defense announced Saturday."

So I'd say the soldier definitely "had ties to Iraq."

But I'll be fair. I don't know how many of you writers out there have ever written headlines, but I have and I'm here to tell you it's not an easy job. Many variables are in play when writing headlines. First, the reporter may not have given the editor a good enough understanding of the story to be able to sum it up in 8 or 10 words.

Then they only have so much space and so many characters to fill that space. There are only so many combinations of characters that will fill the space and make sense. And they must be little complete sentences, with a subject and a verb.

I wrote the heads for my arts column at Triad Business News, and I often spent almost as much time writing the head as I did the column.

How about this headline: "Kerry had ties to Vietnam."

I just couldn't help myself.


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