Headlines and innuendo always need 2nd look

Posted: January 6th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , | View Comments

South Carolina's "Gamecock" mascot is fit for ribbing.

Three days after Florida State won the Chick-fil-A Bowl, it’s twice-weekly student newspaper, the FSView & Florida Flambeau, published a front page headlined with bold innuendo.

Dan Reimold at College Media Matters has a nice roundup of reactions from Twitter, including one from ESPN Radio out of Tallahassee, Fla. They’re mostly positive. But he also asks a serious question about the headline’s journalistic value.

Is it hilarious or cringe-inducing, creative or beyond cliché, journalistic or just-plain vulgar?

Journalists love puns — probably way more than they should. Throw in a little sexual innuendo, and you’ve got newsroom gold. You don’t have to look far to prove it either. As visual journalist Charles Apple points out, sex puns aren’t rare for tabloids like the Daily News, but even The Wall Street Journal’s copy desk gets in on the fun with their A1 heds.

I’m not a huge fan of most “punny” headlines, simply because they’re rarely as clever as their creators think. They can also get you into trouble if you’re not careful, as the Sun learned the hard way in 1982. But when they’re good, they’re often really good, and they can engage the reader in an incredibly effective way. Read the rest of this entry »