Saturday, January 28, 2012

The title for Best Headline has changed hands.

"Headless Body In Topless Bar", your days at the top of the heap are over.

A friend on the Facebook just shared a story that made my head feel like it had been filled with champagne.  A headline that grabs you by the lapels and promises you a better time than a fifty-dollar whore who has two tongues and is having a one-cent sale.

I'm almost afraid to add the link, for fear you'll run off to read it and never come back.

I can imagine the headline editor going over that phrase for HOURS trying to pare it down, but not finding a word he could bear to part with. Because every word is just choked with win.

Much in the same way Lord of the Flies is a little textbook on how to write a novel, this headline delivers EVERY SINGLE THING that you can use in a headline to draw eyeballs to the story.

1) A CELEBRITY - Celebrities are better than us.  We are fascinated by everything they do, so depending on the amount of proper news happened in a day, EVERYTHING they do is newsworthy.  So this headline could have reported Mr. Ramsay selecting a large bag of M&Ms at the Wawa instead of the single-serving size, and it would have been valid page filler.  But no, they go on.

2) SEX - If you can get the subject of the story doing something sexy, or can at least connect them obliquely to something sexy, it's gonna only help.  Porn is even more of a draw.  So this story not only has porn, but dwarf porn, one of the most fascinating and odd forms of porn that the general public is aware of.  It's peanuts to the afficionado, but the true porn maven likely isn't reading this paper, or at least not past page three.

So we've got "Gordan Ramsay's Dwarf Porn Double" - at this point, what said fellow is doing is almost moot - the headline could end in "eats soup" and you'd still want to read.  (I mean, what size spoon would he use?)  But no, there is no soup in his future...

3) VIOLENCE - The little fucker's DEAD! This headline is like a Ron Popiel pitch, just promising you more and more, asking 'NOW how much would you pay?" the fact that he's passed on is interesting enough, this story can't get any more alluring...can it?

4) UNIQUE SCENARIO - "Dog bites man" is not news, as it happens all the time.  "Man Bites Dog is, as it is uncommon.  So I think we can all agree that while a dead person is common, a dead dwarf somewhat less so, but a dead dwarf FOUND IN A BADGER DEN is as common as a sweet-smelling Taco Bell restroom.

5) LOCAL COLOR - If you can mention a specific area in a story, people in that area will look at the story, excited that something vaguely of interest happened in close proximity to them.  The Wife made the local paper for the act of winning tickets to the King Kong premiere. What's more, she was recognized by strangers from the story as much as a year later.

So by adding "In Wales" to the end of the masthead, it ensures that any Welsh not previously interested in a story about a diminutive erotic doppleganger who turned up eyes up in a burrow will now pick the paper up and give it look

This headline's surely writing checks the story can't cash.. And indeed it's a very short piece (Oh, damn, I can't believe I just typed that) that doesn't deliver much of the promise the headline had.

But the paper knows a winner when they see one.  So a week later, when the titular grumpy gourmet was pulled over in LA for accidentally driving on the wrong side of the street, do they go with, "TV's Ramsay caught in traffic snarl"?  No.

I. Love. Journalism.


  1. True, every word. Yet surely we can still salute the great founder of the genre, P.G. Wodehouse, with his "Sons of Toil Buried Beneath Tons of Soil," from Heavy Weather (1933).

  2. Another hilarious ITRD? from your nimbly typing fingers, Vin, John, today's headline creators need more of that Wodehouse wit. The headline for today's edition of THE MORNING CALL was "Patients' pain pumps fraught with problems." Not exactly Wodehouse-worthy, perhaps, but I give them points for alliteration. :-)

  3. Funny. But who is Gordon Ramsey? I'm backward, I know.

  4. Yvette, the short version is that Gordon Ramsay is a British footballer-turned-renowned chef. The long version is that he is, shall we say, an exacting many of strong emotions, especially on his TV shows! :-) For more info, check out this link: