January 14th, 2014

How to Write a Headline

Here is a Montreal newspaper:

http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Sheriffs+office+people+shot+inside+movie+theatre+suspect/9381929/story.html

Police: Retired officer shot 2 people, 1 fatally, at Fla. movie theatre in fight over texting

It categorizes the story and captures the salient details.

By contrast, here is how NOT to write a headline:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/13/justice/florida-movie-theater-shooting/

Dad's texting to daughter sparks argument, fatal shooting in movie theater

It buries the event, erases the police (ex-)affiliation which is what makes the story compelling (if this had involved a couple of young people with no police affiliation it would have gotten the kind of traction this story has, and the moral drawn would have been _very_ different). Further, the structure places proximate causation and thus, presumably, blame on the victim.

Nice argument for the people who think giving guns even to law enforcement (I realize the guy had been retired for a while) is not such a great idea. We have all kinds of rules, and we give some people more authority enforcing them. But in no way do we intend for all of those rules to be enforced, all of the time, and it's pretty clear theater management understood that.