Everyone who has ever written press headlines hopes to be the one who can announce a major war, plague, famine, or Harry Potter movie. The typesetter and/or compositor shares this ambition – if only so that they can put the really big letters on the top of the page and throw away the sciatica and used car advertisements from the bottom. It is a matter of pride and artistry.
This is also shared by the paper’s photographer. Never mind the fact that their bread and margarine is G&G’s, brides, and pictures of Margaret River vineyards – they all secretly want to be there when the zeppelin bursts into flames. Any number of them hang around airship landing fields smoking cigars and hoping. A close second is hanging around the local magistrates court waiting for a former sports personality to be arraigned for drug possession yet again.
It’s hard to make people stop and look – and even harder to make them stop and buy – when the radio, television, and internet report the news faster than anyone in the print business. The only way to counter this is to produce one of three things:
- A headline that scares people on paper. They don’t really scare on a screen because they can’t hold the screen.
- A picture that no-one else has got…you’ll only get to show this once before everyone else steals and reposts it, but if you can imbed your logo in such a way that it cannot be got out easily you’ll get a box of chocolates from the publicity department.
- A comedic typo or image juxtaposition – one that you can pretend to be embarrassed and apologetic about as it boosts sales of the next two papers.
If the thing is looking a litle thin despite your best efforts you can always dip into the trite bin and strew the page with images of poppies, The Queen, the word ANZAC, or an Australian flag. We all remember the 1959 Daily Examiner front page that showed Her Majesty wearing a dress made of poppies, waving an Australian flag, and eating an ANZAC biscuit. Despite the fact that the leading story of the day dealt with nothing more exciting than a fall in the monthly figures in the mutton-tallow trade, framed copies of this page are displayed at RSL halls all over Australia and many old diggers are not ashamed to cry in front of it.
That’s the sort of headline we want. If we could get a zeppelin full of sheep to burst into flames above Buckingham Palace on April 25th we could all retire zillionaires.
*Bull Creek’s daily no-paper news