Just pulled the Jan/Feb issue of the esteemed Columbia Journalism Review from my mailbox. As I always, it is packed with fine pieces about journalism, but as always, I start with the back inside cover, the feature called “The Lower Case,” made up of real but messed-up headlines — and I share some of them with you…
“Ex-Trader Gets 3 Years in France”
“Alderman offers crime tips”
“Indonesian Editor Begins Sentence” (that one is from the New York Times, no less.
“Gainesville gunman kills father, self;
Then drives on shooting rampage, wounding 5″
“Baptist leader’s yoga position creates backlash”
“Vatican to issue guidelines on sex abuse” (Boston Globe)
“State patrol keeping eye out for drunken drivers from sky”
“Woman accused of setting Dogs on fire in court today”
“Terrorist Is Returned To Prison In Gun Case.” (New York Times again).
“Solar system plagued again by thieves”
Usually, you can figure out what the headline writer was really trying to say. Sometimes, it’s harder, but if that happens and if you’re curious, googling up the headline will generally get you pretty close to the actual story.
For example, the last one, about the solar system being plagued by thieves, comes from The Greater New Milford (Connecticut) Spectrum. The story begins:
“For the fourth time in a year, vandals have stolen or damaged planets or other space-related pieces of the all-volunteer McCarthy Observatory’s six-mile wide, scale-model solar system.”