The old guy stopped by the newspaper office the other day to watch the young guys put the paper together and it brought back a lot of memories about laying out pages, placing pictures and writing headlines- especially the latter.
Writing headlines is tricky business because you have to let the readers know what the story is about and you have to do it in a pre-determined space. Too long and it won’t fit- too short and you get a lot of ugly white space. Insider has always considered himself an expert headline writer, but he has produced more than his share of flubs over the years. Sometimes the placement of one word can create a zinger with a double meaning.
Insider stopped writing headlines long before Jay Leno started sharing some of the worst with his late night viewers, but if the late night guy was doing that bit 20 years ago, Insider might have had quite a few appear on the segment. Here are a few of the more memorable ones discovered only after the paper hit the streets:
Include Your Children When Baking Cookies; Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says; Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers; Safety Experts Say School Bus Riders Should Be Belted; Drunk Gets Nine Months in Violin Case; Farmer Bill Dies in House; Iraqi Head Seeks Arms; Prostitutes Appeal to Pope; Panda Mating Fails, Veterinarian Takes Over; Virgin Lands Short of Goal Again; Enraged Cow Injures Farmer with Axe; Plane Too Close to Ground, Crash Probe Told; Miners Refuse to Work After Death; Israeli Leaders Soften on Pull-Out; Killer Sentenced to Die for Second Time in 10 Years; If Strike Isn’t Settled Soon, It May Last A While; New Obesity Study Looks for Large Test Group; Kids Make Nutritious Snacks; Local High School Drop-Outs Cut in Half; Hospitals Sued by Seven Foot Doctors; and so on.
You get the idea. Just misplacing the order of the words can mean a catastrophe on Friday, or at least a few yuks for the readers.
Seems like all anybody could talk about this week was the NCAA college basketball tournament. As usual some teams got left out while others that had no business getting invited to the big dance found their cards punched. All of the discussion had the Insider thinking about a famous contest 34 years ago some still say was the greatest college basketball game ever played.
It pitted N.C. State, ranked number one in the country, against Maryland, which was ranked at number five, in the 1974 ACC Tournament championship game. The game was played in the era when only the conference tournament winners got a shot at the national championship. State beat the Terps, 103-100, in overtime and went on to win the national title that year. Maryland went home. The NCAA big wigs changed the tournament format after that to make sure the best teams were included in the field for the championship, but with 65 teams allowed in now, they’re still debating who is in and who is out.