May 18th, 2005

last unicorn

More Stronach thoughts

I pass a number of newspaper boxes on my way in to work every morning,
and I find the variations in their headline treatment of the whole
Stronach thing very interesting.

Both the National Post and the Ottawa Sun went with the oh-so-witty
It's particularly amusing that both the Sun (local paper, tabloid
format, right-wing slant, with a reputation for knee-jerk responses,
over-the-top headlines, and not thinking too deeply about things) and
the National Post (trying very hard to be Canada's second national
newspaper, but also slanted to the right, and with a poor reputation
among the snobs who prefer the Globe and Mail) chose the same headline.
The focus is on Belinda Stronach as woman, with the same sort of awed
"It's a girl -- in politics" tone that they've used about her since she
first started her run for the Conservative leadership.

The Globe and Mail, ever trying to be more refined and highbrow, ended
up with "Martin's White Knight", a headline which focuses more on the
effects of Stronach's decision, and on what happens next.

Of course, all three of these papers fall prey to what seems an
increasingly common problem among headline writers: they're so busy
trying to come up with something pithy and memorable (and preferably
clever) that they forget to give us a headline that does what headlines
are supposed to do: actually tell us what the story's about. What was
wrong with "Stronach joins Liberal cabinet"?

The Ottawa Citizen falls prey to a related problem. Its headline,
"Tories fear Stronach may reveal electrion strategy to Liberals", points
to a newspaper trying to compete with all the instant news sources like
tv and internet. Rather than tell us the whole story, it's trying to
get to the "latest", trying to scoop all those same instant news
sources. Do I need to mention that this is impossible? Bill Walsh has
covered this idea rather more eloquently than I can, so go read what he has to say about

I've got another Belinda-related rant coming up, this one an
enraged-feminist complaint about how the reaction has been consistently
gender-focused, but I'm saving that one for a little later.
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