Saturday, January 04, 2014

This week in heds: British invasion

British-style heds are pretty common in the New York Post, which occasionally improves itself by importing talent from the far-distant Murdoch properties, and to a lesser extent at, because Fox! But when we get two distinctively British heds on the front of the News, we should think about hanging a lantern in the steeple of the Old Boston Herald or something.

At the top of the Friday page above, note the prepositional crossover in "CBS' Miller in NYPD stunner." American hed practice calls for a verb here: "NYPD terror chief choice baffles bigs" or "Intel world stunned at TV dude terror pick." The British redtops just let the preposition join the relevant NPs: "Yob brothers in hoods ban" or "Lad on jogger stabbing rap."

At the bottom is a classic noun pile, "Class lab fire horror," which may be this story but you never know, because verbs. As the inside hed and the link suggest, American practice instinctively goes for a passive verb -- "students injured" seems to get the job done -- as long as nobody is standing next to the slot and yelling about the evils of the passive voice.

How about "TV GUY IS NEW TERROR CHIEF"? You can see that construction on both sides of the ocean, and downstyle is always easier to follow than ALL CAPS, but this one's strictly American, because indefinite. The British style would be something like "TV Chris* is new Dr Who," where "TV Chris" is "that guy Chris you've seen on TV," whereas "TV Guy" is "some guy you might know from TV."**

Anyway, observations are welcome: Shock horror outrage, are our tabloid dialects merging?

* See also "TV Henry is broke," "TV Kiefer injured in bar fight," "TV Carol sees spot where skydive daughter died," et al.
** For practice, translate: "TV Kate In Nude Sir Pic Row"

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Anonymous Ed Latham said...

I think they could be: apart from 'Guy', and also 'stunner' (which tends to be reserved for Page 3 girls – the Sun would probably say 'shock'), I'm feeling right at home reading this.

Over here, I'm also occasionally seeing (not least at one's own paper) attempts to get the American conjunctive comma (ROW OVER PAYMENTS, BENEFITS instead of ROW OVER PAYMENTS AND BENEFITS) into the paper (especially when the duty editor is pressed for space).

5:10 AM, January 05, 2014  
Blogger Brian Cubbison said...

The Daily News has hired several staffers from The Daily Mail in the past year, so that probably has an influence. I've always wondered about the Brit headline habit of calling something a "horror crash" as in "Two die in horror crash on way to funeral" ... it seems so unnecessary.

5:34 PM, January 05, 2014  

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