Friday, March 24, 2017

Then again, it might not

Dear Washington Post: These are called "then-again" heds for a reason. Any time you're tempted to write a hed that says something might happen, be sure you ask for the space to write a deck that says "and then again, it might not." It's a good way to keep from looking stupid when -- you know, Door No. 2 applies.

This one arrived in my inbox a little after 5 p.m., topping the second of the Post's two daily email updates. It looked remarkably stupid at that point, but the way to prevent that isn't to travel back in time and change your headlines. It's to avoid, whenever possible, trying to predict the future. Let's see if there's a clue in the text:

THE BIG IDEA: If you read Donald Trump’s “The Art of the Deal,” substituting “conservatives" for "contractors," the president’s ultimatum to House Republicans on health care is not at all surprising. “You have to be very rough and very tough with most contractors or they’ll take the shirt right off your back,” Trump wrote in the 1987 business classic.

Here is a tip. If you think "The Art of the Deal" is a "business classic," you should probably avoid putting your opinions in headlines just on general principles.

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Anonymous raYb said...

If you're going to do that, you need the conviction of Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein: IT COULD WOOORRK!

10:39 PM, March 30, 2017  

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