The Headline Writer

When I was about 22, I lived near the headquarters of the New York Daily News and ran into reporters and news photographers all the time. One day, I met a man named Ted Noun, a remarkable name, I thought, considering his job, writing headlines for the paper.

He told me it was the verbs, not the nouns, that were hard. I told him I never read his paper because the headlines never made any sense to me, and he understood right away.  But I didn’t find the Times much better that way. For some reason, I let myself get upset by bad writing in the Times. I expected better of it.

So I’ve never been much of a newspaper reader, and when I found out that the World Press Review wasn’t too expensive, I dropped my $500/year Times subscription and thought, “Wow! Now I’ll get all the news in the world, brief, clear, and cheap!”

Alas, it wasn’t to be. After many years in business, they soon folded, keeping my money and telling me to visit a website:

If you ask me, it stinks. It’s loaded with ads, doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do: keep an eye on newspapers all over the world and summarize what people are saying.

I can’t complain about the headlines, but a reader needs more. Each article should have a section, a “blurb”, before its main text giving the gist of the story, followed by a somewhat larger section doing the same, but delivering the general story to readers who don’t care about the details.

That alone would make a newspaper worthwhile to me.

But my main bugaboo is always the same: I detest all advertising.  Bitterly.

If an ad told me a Honda Civic was the cheapest car in America to buy, run, and maintain, that would be a decent ad, assuming it were true; anything more is a waste of my time and paper.  Grr.


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