“The ramblings and grumblings of author Ad Hudler”

When it comes to words, Less is often More
Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Headline writing is an art form. Having grown up in a five-generation newspaper family and being a former print journalist myself, I know how difficult it is to write a headline that captures the essence of an article in a defined space. The skinny one-column heads are the hardest -- they're almost like haiku.

Well, no one writes headlines as well as The New York Times, and their one-column heads are generally poetry. In an arts section last week they posted a review of the movie "Country Strong," in which Gwyneth Paltrow plays an alcoholic country music star trying to save her career and love life.

Here was the one-column headline in the Times:

I am woman,
Hear me
cry, y'all

It tells us everything. We know that the Times did NOT like the movie -- and that they considered it to be sappy and over the top. The review was horribly written, but whoever wrote that headline (reporters never write their own; the job generally goes to the page designer), deserves a pat on the back. In these days of verbosity, succinct, well-thought-out messages should be appreciated and savored.

In an unrelated note: Here's a shout-out to my readers in and around Estevan, Saskatchewan, who are reading my novel "Househusband" in their Book Club in a Bag program.


Anonymous Darla M. McCorkle said...

Headline writing was one of my favorite things about working at the paper. Proofing obits was my least favorite job. Flirting with the press boys was the easiest way to get free soda! Ahhh, the newspaper business...

January 11, 2011 at 11:30 PM  

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