Running a newspaper isn’t the easiest job in the world. There are copy deadlines, material deadlines and pesky columnists with which to put up. (At least I didn’t end the sentence with a preposition!) It can be a bit stressful at times, so when humorous stories – intentional or otherwise – come along, the editor can have a bit of fun when it comes to headlines. Sometimes, however, the joke isn’t obvious until the paper is printed. By then, it’s too late! With that bit of an introduction, here are some actual newspaper headlines to digest and enjoy!
This gem is from the Madison-St. Clair Record: “Alton Attorney Accidentally Sues Himself.” The story went on to read, “Alton attorney Emert Wyss thought he could make money in a Madison County class action lawsuit, but he accidentally sued himself instead. Now he has four law firms after his money – and he hired all four.” Wow. My guess is that you’ll never hear the name Emert Wyss in a discussion about brilliant legal minds.
This headline came from an Associated Press article: “Tiger Woods Plays With Own Balls, Nike Says.” I’m not going to touch Tiger’s balls here, if you don’t mind.
From a newspaper called the Register-Guard comes this headline: “County to Pay $250,000 to Advertise Lack of Funds.” The officials in Lane County (wherever that is), in their infinite wisdom, spent a quarter-million dollars to advertise the fact that they didn’t have enough money for public safety, and so that voters would be scared and approve a big tax hike in a referendum. I wonder how that turned out…
From a newspaper that had its name blurred out (probably due to embarrassment) came this gem: “Volunteers Search For Old Civil War Planes.” Civil War planes???
Government acronyms can be confusing. It’s always a good idea never to lead a newspaper story with a headline directing readers into the State of Confusion. The editor of the Express never got that memo: “DOE to do NEPA’s EIS on BNFL’s AMWTP at INEEL after SRA Protest.” This compelling headline certainly enticed readers to check out the fascinating story of a nuclear waste incinerator’s upcoming environmental study. Hey, WAKE UP!!
Sometimes a six-word headline along with an eight-word sub-head tells an entire 800-word story about human stupidity in, well, 14 words. Case in point: “Caskets Found as Workers Demolish Mausoleum – ‘We had no idea anyone was buried there.’”
This next headline from an unnamed Utah newspaper belongs in the Museum of the Painfully Obvious: “Utah Poison Control Center Reminds Everyone Not To Take Poison.” It would fit right in with this next headline: “Federal Agents Raid Gun Shop, Find Weapons.”
Some headlines leave you scratching your head: “Local Child Wins Gun From Fundraiser.” The story reveals that a 19-month old toddler actually won a .17 caliber Martin rifle raffled off by the Tri-County Moose Service Center. And there’s a photo of the rifle in the lap of a rather confused child. Upon closer inspection, the child in the photo looks alarmingly like the talking baby from the E-Trade commercials. It’s so sad when talented actors go bad.
Another headline from another unnamed newspaper boldly proclaimed: “Statistics Show That Teen Pregnancy Drops Off Significantly After Age 25.” People can twist numbers around to mean virtually anything these days! Or as famous writer Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) once said, “There’s lies, there’s damned lies, and there’s statistics!”
We’ll wrap up with a couple of examples of the unintentional faux pas. Consider this: “One-Armed Man Applauds The Kindness of Strangers.” Finally, there’s an answer to the question about the sound of one hand clapping. And finally, there’s the inspirational story of the girl who won the biggest beauty pageant in the world. The well-intended editor attempted to really pump up the story by writing this attention-getting (for all the wrong reasons) unintentional insulting headline: “Puerto Rican Teen Named Mistress of the Universe.”