Friday, April 14, 2006

Dumb hed of the day

Gunmen take over Hamas building
Group demands perks promised by Fatah
RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Palestinian gunmen briefly took over the Cabinet building on Thursday, protesting the refusal of the new Hamas government to meet their demands for perks and promotions.

Uh, no. Buildings that house government organs don't become the property of the governing party. The White House is not a Republican building. The Houses of Parliament aren't a Labor building.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to raise my hand and take credit for that stinker. I knew I'd end up on here sooner or later, I'm glad it took more than a year. The worst part is I thought the very same thing and kind of grimaced while writing it. My only defenses are deadline pressures, tough specs and a desire to get Hamas or some kind of locator into the big type. All of which are more excuses, since that describes a good chunk of the work we do on the desk. I considered "Men take over government building" or "Gunmen take over Cabinet building." But in the end, being in full shovel mode, I ran with the dumb one.

Some lessons I'm taking from this one:

1. Trust your instincts and listen to that little voice inside saying "Say, wait a minute ..."

2. And to paraphrase Pulp Fiction, screw pride. Go ask the designer to bump it down. In the end it's the reader who wins.

3. Try to treat the inside slugs with the same care you will the 1a CP that's waiting for you.

3:49 PM, April 15, 2006  
Blogger fev said...

Hey, first one's on me next time you get back to town.

I do have one actual practical suggestion, and it comes from your excellent point about trying to balance bad specs and bad deadlines against the need to say something relevant:

Instead of preserving the subject-verb-object order of the lede (gunmen take building) and trying to modify some part of that to get in the location, look for a different SVO that doesn't require so much boundary-hopping. A couple possibilities, from which you might note that I've been away from the hed business for a bit:

Protest targets Hamas policies

Armed protest targets Hamas

If you can make "Hamas" the object, or let it modify a noun that doesn't stretch the envelope so far, you can signal your locator and still keep an active SVO hed.

The trouble with "Hamas building" is the number of categories "Hamas" has to jump over to get from a sound position -- in real life, it's somewhere in a prepositional phrase at the end of a relative clause, as in "Gunmen take over building that has become symbol of Hamas authority" -- to the one it occupies in the hed. You had the right idea; what you needed was a different noun setup where it would have worked better.

Asking for better spex, though -- that's always good. Designers?

10:02 PM, April 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a really good tip. Some of my best heds are ones that break out of the SOV mold.

I'm definitely taking you up on the drink offer. I'll tell you right now I want a Boulevard. We're missing out on it's unfiltered wheaty goodness here. I'm curious, what was your go to pint when you resided in these parts?

5:31 PM, April 16, 2006  
Blogger melissa angle said...

real designers let copy editors write good heds.

9:45 PM, April 16, 2006  
Blogger fev said...

Bogdas is back on station! Everybody out there in rimland should be glad a designer with that attitude is judging SSND competitions (as Nicole was during her visit to the Big Town a week or so ago).

Favorite pint in those parts: Brown ale from the now-defunct (alas) Johnson Brewing. And the Elizabeth Pub, longtime home of the Sunday night bluegrass jam, drew Foster's, which remains my pils-of-choice unless Blue Paddle is on tap. (All of which said, I'd never turn down a Boulevard Wheat.)

Then there's the ESB from the Flat Branch, which I'm about to pour one of. You can get half-gallons to go, you know.

7:48 PM, April 23, 2006  

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