Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Headlines that shouldn't have happened


It takes a special talent to write headlines. During my long newspaper career it was a talent missing from my makeup. Don't get me wrong; I could write beautiful headlines, but if the count was nineteen mine were twenty. You cannot make a twenty count headline fit in a space limited to nineteen.
That was OK because reporters don't write headlines. Editors do that. Sometimes the headline leaves something to be desired, so who do the readers blame for it? The reporter who wrote the story, of course.
Most of the editors I worked for were very good at the job. The best was Jack Richman, a wonderful city editor. You could file a story a few minutes before deadline and he would go over it, send it to the composing room and write a perfect headline and have it done on time.
Poor editors lift the best part of a story and use it in writing the headline. That would be like introducing a comedian by telling the punchline of his joke.
So I was thinking of headlines today after reading a post on a messageboard. I added a post of my own telling of two really bad examples on a paper I worked for. Rather than waste them on a messageboard, I'll use them here.
The first showed that semi-colons sometimes fail to do the job. It was written by a young editor who eventually became the editor of the entire paper. I never let him live down the headline that read:
Mabel Jones dies; cooked at Colonial Cafe.
The other one was much worse. If an excuse was needed by the writer he could have blamed it on a couple of policemen who didn't get along with each other. Jim Peters was rather heavy set and his not-so-friendly rival, Paul Cox, was a giant of a man. There wasn't a subject they agreed upon. The headline involving the pair read:
Cox and Peters battle at Merit Commission.
I'm not sure how many people actually read the story but I am certain everyone in town saw the headline. I had nothing to do with either the story or the head, yet everyone I saw the next day had some wisecrack and I was the innocent victim of their sorry attempts at humor.
Well, that's just the way it goes in the newspaper business.

http://www.dickstodghill.com/

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