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The Flag of the World

-G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

This here blog is a glimpse or two or three at the condition of the 'fortress of our family' through the eyes Timothy Goddard, a Christian writer with an unhealthy interest in politics living in the Puget Sound area.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2003

 

The thing I like about blogs is that my headlines can be as long or as short as I want them to be and no one will complain about it, (too much)
The San Fransisco Chronicle has been catching some heat, most recently from Eugene Volokh over using "actor" in place of "Schwarzenegger" in headlines.

Now, having just distributed the first full edition of the Bethel College Clarion with me as Editor-in-Chief, I am sympathetic to the plight of headline writers who have to deal daily with the names Schwarzenegger, Bustamente and Uberroth. But the Chronicle ombudsman seems to miss something in his own analysis of the situation. The headline was
BUSTAMANTE
AND ACTOR
TAKE LEAD
IN STATE POLL
This seems a more valid complaint than Volokh's, which was centered around a headline only referring to Schwarzenegger. The ombudsman, understandably unwilling to use first names, couldn't figure out a way to do it, so he decided that the paper was a-ok, and threw out the challenge to readers:
Give it a go yourself: four lines, no more than 11 characters including spaces, and no fewer than nine characters. Make it specific and in the active voice. Just for good measure, give yourself a five-minute deadline.
Well, I've written a headline or two in my day, so I decided to take a crack at it. My answer?
LT GOVERNOR
AND FILM STAR
TAKE LEAD
IN STATE POLL
I came up with it in about two minutes. Ba-da-boom, ba-da-bing. They both get their professions mentioned, 'Film star' sounds better than actor anyway (and it's more accurate, really--sorry, Arnie), and it's all 11 characters or less (not counting spaces, which is a bit confusing because the original headline apparently doesn't count them, but the ombudsman did).

All this to say that more effort should be given to help long-named candidates recieve full credit. Perhaps that involves (heaven forbid!) moving around some layout to make it work, or messing with font sizes, or some other drastic effort in the interests of fairness--and for that matter, accuracy.
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