Monday, April 12, 2004

If at first you don't succeed ...

Headline writing is a thankless task. For the latest proof, see this column by the Hartford Courant's reader representative, Karen Hunter.

When UConn won the national championship, it was huge news there. An even bigger story was that it made the impossible possible: The women could win the next day.

So, sum that up in four words.

The first edition of the paper carried this front-page headline: Halfway there. Many argued that the headline writer was only halfway there. The hed plays down the men's victory.
Sports Copy Desk Chief Scott Powers agreed: "`Halfway There' was poor. I thought it diminished the Monday night accomplishment of the men, and I think if I were a fan I'd be upset. There are a lot of people who are fans of the men and not fans of the women, and vice versa. Although there is a lot of overlap in fandom, those who root for the men had a right to complain. Putting that headline above a picture of the UConn men might have conveyed that the UConn men are halfway someplace. They went all the way. Couldn't have done more. I know it was replaced, but unfortunately that seems to carry more weight inside The Courant's walls than it should.
Powers' next quote is interesting for several reasons -- it's harsh on the paper and it opens a can of worms that isn't further addressed.
"There is a finality to the paper that comes to your doorstep. People who live east of the [Connecticut River] got a sub-par paper because of early deadlines, compared to what readers west of the river got. They shouldn't be penalized for living where they do, but they don't get the same quality paper. ... If you lived east of the river, you didn't get a keepsake paper."
The second-edition headline was much better. Written by reporter Dom Amore, it captures both sentiments without down-playing the men: 1 Crown, 1 To Go.

That had its critics, too, people who wanted their keepsake "UCONN WINS" hed. But Hunter points out:
The Sports staff produced two sections a day - one devoted to the tournament, the other covering the usual sports events - in addition to contributing daily front-page and A-section stories. A 116-page glossy magazine will be published April 18, three commemorative posters are available and books about each winning team are in the works. UConn fans should be able to find something worth collecting among all of that.


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