Saturday, January 12, 2013

Louisiana blogger writes title for blog

So I saw this headline in the latest issue of The Times of Acadiana:


My immediate reaction was, "This headline wasn't written in Louisiana."

It's a bit of a cheat, because I already know that headlines and copyediting for all Gannett publications in Louisiana are now done at a central facility in Des Moines, Iowa. My job in Missouri went there. I have friends and former co-workers who work there (albeit for other newspapers). I applied myself a while back.

Inevitably, a regional copy configuration sometimes leads to headlines like these — titles that aren't necessarily wrong, but are overly generic. (I've noticed this on Times photo captions too, many of which begin, "In this publicity photo released by..." — I always made a point of rewriting this filler text during my copy desk days.) Anyone who lives in and/or knows Louisiana knows Edwin Edwards, and most are familiar with the ridiculous turn his often-ridiculous life is taking these days. He recently married a 34-year-old woman and has a 62-year-old daughter. He is the most colorful (and colorfully corrupt) governor of Louisiana's modern era. I know people who personally know and love the man.

And yet none of that is reflected in this headline. It could have said, "Gov. Edwards' third wife focus of reality show." Or, "Edwards' new odd family dynamic to hit airwaves." Something with Edwards front and center. The readership of The Times of Acadiana needs no introduction. 

I bring this up because as smaller newspapers and increased wire content become the norm, so does creeping generica. AP copy fills many a page with serviceable stories, but such close datelines remind me of a time when an in-house writer might have taken their own angle on it. Short of that, at least a copy editor would differentiate their presentation with a gripping headline soaked in local flavor.

I don't blame this on the person who wrote it. They probably aren't familiar with Louisiana audiences or politics, just as I often needed help in writing Missouri headlines. Also, I know such copy flow often gets Lucy-in-the-chocolate-factory heavy. Maybe I'm being overly critical. Still, this headline really stuck out at me yesterday afternoon and was still on my mind hours later, so it seemed amiss not to address it. There's simply no excuse for a Louisiana wire story in a Louisiana newspaper to look so obviously outsourced.

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