Friday, August 24, 2007

There once was a young ...

Sometimes it's hard to get your bearings on who or what exactly was a headline name in the dim, dark past before your own historical memory begins. So the first part of this hed is understandable. But the second seems to take the natural progress of heds in the wrong direction:

Shooter who left governor paralyzed to go free
Ala. politician hit on '72 campaign

OK, it's syntactically a train wreck (Dude! You hit on a whole campaign?), but the real issue is apposition: the number of different words or phrases we use to stand in for the main actor. When it's Jim-Bob Smith of 264 Bypass East, of course, we can't just make him "Smith." He has to be "local man" or "county man," or perhaps "student" or something. Then the deck can explain something further about him. When he (or she) moves up to the cusp of celebrity, either the hed or the deck will probably use the name, with the other explaining the actor's status.

In this case, both heds are stating more or less the same thing about the actor. He's a "governor" in one and an "Ala. politician" in the other. And neither one comes close to telling me that, what with the "shooter" being Arthur Bremer and all, the "Ala. politician" is George Corley freakin' Wallace.

So -- look. I know the modal first news memory for copyeds these days is the Challenger or something later. "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" is somewhere just north of Triceratops on the timeline of life. Go ahead. Close your eyes and take a gamble on your audience. This isn't a story in 2007 because somebody shot a governor. It's a story because it's about George Wallace. Get his damn name into one of the heds, at least.

And if someone can provide a proper citation for the following, I'd be obliged:

There once was a young man named Hollis
Who used possums and lizards for solace
His children had scales
And prehensile tails
And voted for Governor Wallace


Blogger Dennis D'Asaro said...

My late friend, R. Michael Williams of Troy, NY, always said he'd written the Gov. Wallace limerick. No reason to doubt this. Clever fellow, newswriter, and great Spider Robinson fan.

7:27 AM, September 16, 2014  
Blogger Dennis D'Asaro said...

Oh, and more to your point...published in Playboy.

7:41 AM, September 16, 2014  

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