Monday, November 06, 2006

Next stop: Rewrite!

Time for a quick spin through the front pages and their treatment of the big news from Iraq. See if you can see a pattern developing here.

First, a couple of awards. In the How Much Hed Space Can You Occupy and Still Say Nothing category, step forward the Montgomery Advertiser:
Saddam's fate may change nothing

And then again, it may, um ... change something! Would there be a fate we should be discussing here? Just wondering.

Runner-up on the "huh" front, the Modesto Bee:
Saddam's fate a further divide

Now, the coveted You Provide the Pictures Award for tabloid jingoism: the New York Daily News in a walk:

Guys? Remember? No travel bookings on behalf of the Unseen Powers? The copydesk never screws around with the supernatural. The supernatural might screw back.

Runner-up and recipient of the Roger Miller Prize, the Miami Herald:
saddam hussein verdict

Now the lesser awards, falling into a couple categories. One is mistaking intent for outcome, which we see often enough in local stories. Here it's kind of, well, guesswork:

Saddam bound for the gallows
Fresno Bee
Saddam to hang for killings
The Day (CT)
Saddam to hang
Columbus Dispatch

Then there's the usual irrelevant speculation:
Verdict could fuel civil strife in Iraq
Orlando Sentinel

... and timeless observation:
Ex-Iraqi dictator belligerent
Thanks, Denver Post! We've been waiting since, oh, September 1980 for the definitive word on that.

Raleigh sounds as if it's rewriting one of those Bonnie and Clyde poems:
For Saddam, death;
for Iraq, more strife
Sounds so heavy until you, like, read it. Side note, though:

Reactions from around the world:
In the U.S./In the Muslim world

Hmm. N&O having a little trouble figuring out the difference between Arabs and Muslims again? Let's work on that.

OK. Let's say a few nice things. Hats off to The State of Columbia; if you have to second-cycle, it's possible to do it right:
Saddam verdict hailed as milestone for Iraq

And congratulations to those papers that just wrote real grownup heds:
Saddam sentenced to hang
Long Beach Press-Telegram
Hussein sentenced to hang for killings
Indianapolis Star (though you have to work to find it)
Saddam sentenced to death
Austin American Statesman
Hussein sentenced to die by hanging
Lexington Herald-Leader

See? You can write a news hed and not turn to stone! Try it sometime!

[Should the event actually come about, do take to heart Cousin Strayhorn's admonition below about the distinction between 'hanged' and 'hung.']


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