Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Out-of-tune hed of the month

When your mayor is charged with perjury, it's hard to argue with "MAYOR CHARGED" as a boxcar-sized 1A hed. The problem here is the deck, She says it's perjury; he vows a fight. "He" has an antecedent; "she" doesn't, and that pushes the hed into the wrong county altogether.

"He said/she said" is a pretty specific set of stuff: as the OED puts it, "characterized by conflicting statements from opposing parties in the absence of concrete evidence." Some examples:
The hearing on the docket presaged another round in the he-said-she-said acrimony of his marriage's breakdown.

Sexual assaults are tricky cases to investigate. In many instances, allegations boil down to he said, she said.

If you read a sexual undertone into "he said/she said," you're probably on track. And this is a case about sex (among many other things). The mayor and his former chief of staff are accused of lying during a whistleblower trial last year when they denied having an affair. Given all that, it's hard to tell from the deck that "he" is a crime suspect and "she" is a prosecutor (who happens to be a woman), isn't it? Almost as hard as imagining a "he said/he said" atop a murder indictment.

The Freep has put a lot of resources and prestige into this ongoing tragicomedy and has produced some fine old-fashioned journalism in the bargain -- there are 11 open pages* of Mayoral Follies of '08 inside the A section, and that isn't chopped liver by any standard. That amount of effort warrants better attention to what you're putting in the show window.

* A down side of this is that you can't tell from the A section that there's a war on -- much less two wars on. That's a very regrettable state of affairs that's becoming all too common downtown.

3 Comments:

Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

There's a war on? Are we going to be asked to carpool or something? No? Then perhaps it's not really front-page stuff anymore...

Wait! Get that Kool-Ade away from me!

1:23 PM, March 25, 2008  
Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Also - why not "DA says it's perjury..."?

Though you might need to flip the clauses so "he" is clearly the mayor.

8:55 AM, March 26, 2008  
Blogger fev said...

Nah, I think somebody at the Freep needed to admit that this suitcase isn't going to close. Both ideas won't fit into one line of deck, so we need more hed or less idea.

Might could try "Accused of perjury, he predicts 'complete exoneration'"; one of the other problems with "she says" is that it sounds as much like Worthy's personal opinion as her professional conclusion, so I'd actually prefer a passive verb there.

Creak, groan, fetch the 3-in-1 Oil. Been a long time since I wrote a hed.

10:25 PM, March 26, 2008  

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