Making headlines

“Mapplethorpe Exhibit Flap” –– It was a headline I remember reading years ago when Tony and I were living in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It sounded so funny to repeat out loud that we would randomly say it fast, like a tongue twister. We didn’t really know anything about Mapplethorpe, or the controversy surrounding his art, but we still remember the headline.  

Coming up with a good headline is also a work of art, and I think, one of the most difficult things to write. It’s like poetry. You have to say a lot with a limited number of words. And when a headline goes wrong, it can go terribly wrong. It’s easy to put all your effort into an article but then forget to really consider the headline. 

Jay Leno made a living on messed up headlines, which I think is the best part of his show. So when I find myself needing a good laugh, I’ll look up botched news headlines online. Somehow, it makes me feel better to see an AP article with a heading that shot for the moon and hit Pluto. 

Below are some of the ones I’ve found that always make me smile.

“Missippi’s literacy program shows improvement”

“Most earthquake damage caused by shaking”

“Students cook and serve grandparents”

“Hunter Dies; Deer count holds steady”

“Schools will have to improve dropout rates”

“Math book used in local classroom”

“15 pit bulls rescued; 2 arrested”

“Statistics show teen pregnancy drops off significantly after age 25”

“Murderer says detective ruined his reputation”

“Chick accuses some of her male colleagues of sexism” 

(I had to read further on this one, and unbelievably, the woman’s last name is Chick.)


And, my all-time favorite:

“Diana was still alive hours before she died”

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