Win a night with the copy desk
Vince Tuss pointed me toward a story from the readers representative at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
She sheds some light on what copy editors do on a given night. She also praises some headlines, with names:
That's when [at night] Dick Parker reads a story on a deer crashing through a Brooklyn Park window and writes the headline: "The deer departed isn't mourned."But the best part of the article is the headline test that has been set up for readers. There's a 15-minute timer, and readers get a synopsis of the story, specs and these rules:
And Judy Arginteanu tops a story on life-size fiberglass buffalo figures being used as art in Buffalo, Minn., with: "Where the buffalo stay put."
Or Jim Landberg captures a story about Minnesotans having a mixed reaction to our warm winter with: "Wimpy winter: Some tee off; others teed off."
Writing a good headline is a lot harder than it looks. The copy editors have to make it fit in a certain number of letters and lines, the "hed specs" sent by the layout editor. A 1-54-3 Franklin head is a three-line, one-column headline in 54-point type set in a Franklin typeface. That's not much space, which is why Pam Huey, bemoaning a bad head count she'd been handed one recent evening, was exasperated that the newspaper's "style" is to write out Minneapolis and Minnesota in headlines. "I'd like to live in a state like Iowa," she said.
* The headline must fit in the space allowed.That's pretty similar to the headline writing specifications we take in copy-editing tests.
* No more than three spaces can be left blank at the end of each line.
* Allow one space for each letter.
The winner gets to spend a night with the copy desk and play trivia with them afterward.