Shortness of Breadth

The reason he sometimes find headlines amusing is that they look as if they’re sentences but they are not. Headlines are written for people who either can barely read or feel as if they are too busy to read. They are also written that way in case Todd happens across one. He can claim to have read the paper and not be completely mistaken.

Because the rules about headlines were adopted before literacy was something to take for granted and have not been adapted since, we get whacky headlines on Leno every now and again. I’ve written some myself although my are generally whacky because I’ve included a typo. The title of this Todcast is not a typo, so you know.

The trouble is, especially for nuanced stories — and I here refer to stories with more than two facts — sometimes all the relevant facts don’t both fit in the headline and in the space allotted for the headline.

Here’s a boring newspaper fact, the fetish for making a headline fit in a particular area is what often causes those whacky headlines. In this week’s Todcast we spoke about a headline that read, “High-Speed Chase In Berlin Results In Major Pot Seizure”

This is a beautiful headline. There was a high speed chase. It was in Berlin. Pot was seized.

Of course, the chase didn’t result in the seizure. What is more likely was that the chase ended and then there was a seizure. Also, unless major is the name of a strain, I don’t think that word works.

Major as compared with what?

My headline would have gone more along these lines:

“Nosy cops ruin weekend”

Short, sweet, to the point, and proportionate to the number of facts it contains.