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All editors write headlines they dare not use. Put them here instead.
March 20, 2014 7:07 PM   Subscribe

Heds will roll: Inappropriate but amusing headlines that never made it to print.
posted by the duck by the oboe (66 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's like a garden of puns.
posted by localroger at 7:18 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]


"Germany Discovers Finals Solution"

Inappropriate? Yeah, just a tad.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 7:18 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]


God Hates Tags

Choice.
posted by trunk muffins at 7:19 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]


Our executive editor at the time didn’t want puns or word play in headlines so the headline didn’t make it into the paper.

Party pooper.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:24 PM on March 20


My favorite was "Kim Jun, ill?" from the Economist when North Korea's dictator du jour was on his deathbed.
posted by monotreme at 7:26 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]


These are great. I think I could handle a job where I had to come up with puny headlines.
posted by exogenous at 7:28 PM on March 20


A lot of those are just dumb, too corny for even me (and that's saying something). But this one is just brilliant!

Melts in Your Mouth, Not on the Cross
An item on an anatomically correct chocolate sculpture of Jesus

posted by Greg_Ace at 7:30 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]


The students at the college paper I advise wrote a story about teacher who brought a prehistoric implement to class to show his students. Their headline:
Instructor shares his ancient tool
When I saw it on a page and couldn't stop laughing the editors figured out it might have multiple meanings and nixed it.
posted by cccorlew at 7:33 PM on March 20 [11 favorites]


Teddy joins Dead Kennedys

omg where have you been all of my life?
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:33 PM on March 20 [16 favorites]


Teddy joins Dead Kennedys

The winner for sure.
posted by Chutzler at 7:35 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]


The greatest headline (n)ever used has to be when Michael Foot was appointed to a nuclear disarmament group:

Foot heads arms body
posted by Paragon at 7:35 PM on March 20 [82 favorites]


I just now learned about the chocolate Jesus. What a strange, strange world we live in.
posted by Melismata at 7:36 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]


I still mourn one of mine that was turned down almost 20 years ago. It was an article about the huge sort-of cesspools that form at factory pig farms (which is, if I remember, a thing that happens at Iowa pig farms), and the lead image that accompanied the headline was a pig standing in this vast expanse of shitty water. I wanted to title the article "Bay of Pigs," but I was overruled. :(

The ones on this site are fabulous.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:40 PM on March 20 [4 favorites]


I know that including New York Post headlines here is a form of cheating, but the headline for their Ike Turner obituary is...really something.
posted by Ian A.T. at 7:45 PM on March 20 [18 favorites]


I remember when Soviet leader Andropov died, we came up with all sorts of things like "Red Head Dead" and "Andropov drops off".
posted by Melismata at 7:48 PM on March 20


It reminds me of the old joke about the midget, fortune-telling crook who escaped from custody:

"Small Medium at Large"
posted by 4ster at 7:49 PM on March 20 [5 favorites]


FARK with a nicer design.
posted by DonnyMac at 8:00 PM on March 20


Lvov Will Tear Us Apart

I lvov this.
posted by arcticseal at 8:00 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]


None of these are cited or linked, and there's a "submissions" email address right at the top. No reason to believe that this is the product of any research or that any given one is "authentic", for some value of that word. But yeah, a few choice ones there.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:09 PM on March 20


I just now learned about the chocolate Jesus. What a strange, strange world we live in.

Makes you feel so good inside...
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 8:11 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]


Wait! James Brown is dead?
posted by unliteral at 8:12 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]


I really enjoyed a lot of these. In fact, I think I might try to turn them into clever headlines.
posted by uosuaq at 8:24 PM on March 20


Actual headlines
posted by unliteral at 8:27 PM on March 20 [10 favorites]


All editors write headlines they dare not use.

Clearly none of these people work for the Boston Herald.
posted by threeants at 8:27 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]


A few years back, the ESPN website headlined a story about a player on the Nebraska college football team (named the Cornhuskers, or Huskers for short) "Husker Do."
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:31 PM on March 20 [3 favorites]


I know that including New York Post headlines here is a form of cheating, but the headline for their Ike Turner obituary is...really something.

Wow. I was going to link to their classic HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR, but... wow.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:36 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]


The mostly insufferable Toronto Sun has admittedly been hitting it out of the park with some of their recent headlines, like the one about senator Mike Duffy receiving two inappropriate cheques as part of the senate scandal. The headline read "Mike Cheque, One Two".
posted by Crane Shot at 8:45 PM on March 20 [19 favorites]


Actual New York Daily News headline from last May: Cuomo Spanks Weiner.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:03 PM on March 20 [4 favorites]


Can't remember now where I saw it, but my all-time favorite headline ran above a picture of a shelter kitten getting a vaccination:

Furry With A Syringe On Top.

Every time I think of it I give a little standing ovation in my head.
posted by sapere aude at 9:11 PM on March 20 [25 favorites]


I am a copy editor. We live for this crap.
posted by Occula at 9:12 PM on March 20 [12 favorites]


Many years ago, a cross-Channel ferry sank, and some of the passengers had used a Daily Mirror offer to get tickets for £1 each. Allegedly, The Sun wanted to run the headline "Drowned for a Pound", but it was nixed.
posted by Joh at 9:28 PM on March 20


For the worst heds that actually get printed, I have followed BadNewspaper.com for years (much of it under a less descriptive name I can't recall).

But a resource for journalistic insiders to post their outtakes? I whole-heartedly approve.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:14 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]


None of these are cited or linked
... because they were rejected and not published.

My current editing job doesn't involve writing headlines, which I actually miss a little bit. One hed that I was sad (but unsurprised) to see rejected was when I was at Billboard magazine in the late '90s. It was for an article about the new British female pop group All Saints, who wanted to emphasize that they were truly very different from the British female pop group The Spice Girls. But "No, Not Allspice" didn't make it.
posted by lisa g at 10:22 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]


I appreciate the way these are an even mix of puns far too good to print, and puns far too bad to print.
posted by bicyclefish at 10:51 PM on March 20 [3 favorites]


Actual New York Daily News headline from last May: Cuomo Spanks Weiner

The Post, as usual, trumped them with "CUOMO BEATS WEINER... then goes limp"
posted by nicwolff at 11:17 PM on March 20 [3 favorites]


The chief sub on a paper I used to work for told us a colleague of his had once been faced with headlining a near-incomprehensible piece on the interplay between Danish economics and Danish politics. It was long, rambling and ridiculously technical in nature, but the editor insisted on running it anyway. The sub's suggested headline was:

Something written on the state of Denmark
posted by Paul Slade at 1:35 AM on March 21 [8 favorites]


I wrote a placeholder headline one time when I was doing layout (as one does) and somehow none of the editors that night remembered to un-placeholder it and put in a real headline, so it ran as "[Important Proposal]: This Is An Incredibly Stupid Idea". People were delighted and we had some brief local notoriety for being the only newspaper willing to say so flat out instead of just implying it in our story. :P

I, of course, got in trouble. (But it was the editor's fault! I was just doing layouts with placeholders!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:38 AM on March 21 [8 favorites]


When I was working on a student magazine, a rival paper had a front-page story about the student union buying pornography on their budget, paid for by members' fees. We found out that what had actually happened was that they'd bought a channel bundle for their TV service, which happened to include one or two stations that turned into soft-porn channels after midnight.

We ran with PORN IN A TEACUP, which I remain delighted by to this day.
posted by dudekiller at 1:58 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


My old editor always told us NEVER to put jokey placeholder headlines or captions like Eyebrows McGee's in as, sooner or later, one of them was bound to sneak through. Just use a string of random characters instead, he ordered.

Another headline I treasure (one that actually ran this time) topped The Sun's front-page report that Elton John and David Furnish had married. And it read...
posted by Paul Slade at 1:59 AM on March 21 [3 favorites]


Disaster on a Stick? That's the best you could do?

How about: Crack Snapple Pop!
posted by hal9k at 2:14 AM on March 21


Paul Slade: "Something written on the state of Denmark"

Like the exact opposite of "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative"!
posted by chavenet at 2:48 AM on March 21


Straight to the RSS feed with this one...
posted by jim in austin at 3:37 AM on March 21


This is endlessly funny, *plus* that article about the Satmar construction is interesting!
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 3:41 AM on March 21


My editor didn't want my article inveighing against the Swedish Model of anti prostitution laws, but appreciated my headline - 'Swedish Massage' :)
posted by Mistress at 3:58 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


I think the real headline, "Weapons of Mass Construction" is way better than the rejected "Shtetl Up, Brooklyn!"
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:27 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


Here's one from my past: "Can incontinence be treated? Depends."

Came within a hair's breadth of getting printed. I chickened out after I showed it to my editor and she rolled her eyes but said it was my call.
posted by Brachinus at 4:45 AM on March 21 [3 favorites]


"These are great. I think I could handle a job where I had to come up with puny headlines."

That would be "punny" headlines. "Puny" headlines are the ones they go with.
posted by Billiken at 6:38 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


When I worked for a college paper in the '80s, Studs Terkel gave a speech on campus about something or other, and we printed an article with the headline "Terkel Talks Tough." One of my coworkers' surname was Merkel, and I wanted to put an article right next to it about her at an anti-fur protest titled "Merkel Mocks Muff," but my brilliance was lost on my too-serious journalistic collective.

Given current events, I've been waiting for "Crimea River", but haven't seen it yet.
posted by crazylegs at 6:45 AM on March 21


Fine submission via Metafilter, c. 2004.
posted by bifter at 7:02 AM on March 21


The Oakland Tribune once ran a headline, "Experts Fear Boom in Nuclear Shipments"
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:02 AM on March 21


Have I mentioned the time my boss wouldn't let me subtitle The Poultry Waste Management Handbook, "When You Don't Know Chickenshit?"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:53 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


One I just remembered, which isn't a headline but a caption (but still bears repeating here for its WTF-ness), was in an article about a parasitic wasp that was hopefully going to be the end to Texas' fire ant crisis. The article ran a photo of the tiny wasp, and the caption described its size as "about the size of Lincoln's nose on a penny."

I can't decide if that's wacky or brilliant. What I do know is that some editor was sitting around trying to think of how to describe the size of the wasp in a way that would translate, and that's what they came up with. About as big as Lincoln's nose on a penny.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:06 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


the des moines register several years back: "rising women's underwear prices push up cost of living"
posted by bruce at 9:51 AM on March 21


Why yes, I *would* like to subscribe to your newsletter!

Trivia team names galore!
posted by Pronoiac at 10:05 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


At the Phila. Daily News, we called these "career-enders." But we still managed to get them into the paper frequently.

A personal favorite involved the tragic story of a young model who was seduced by a cruise ship mechanic from Greece, murdered then decapitated, and her head was tossed into the sea in a suitcase. Yeah, I know: great story for a tab.

The hed: SLAIN MODEL LOVED HER GREEK SEAMAN.
posted by sixpack at 10:36 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


Also, the sad aftermath of the Trentonian's infamous ROASTED NUTS hed.
posted by sixpack at 10:43 AM on March 21


Given current events, I've been waiting for "Crimea River", but haven't seen it yet.

Do political cartoons count?

Personally, I prefer the memorable pun at the end of the 1960 Peabody cartoon about the Charge of the Light Brigade... "Crimea does not pay"...
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:25 AM on March 21


Shtetl Up, Brooklyn!
Actually an interesting article
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:10 PM on March 21


From a local small-town paper: Eagles Flog Cocks.
posted by workerant at 2:28 PM on March 21


There's a depth of pun-depravity from English tabloid papers that just... shouldn't be matched.

A NZ Cricket player (a bowler), started dating the owner of a bra company...

which resulted in this, from the Sun, last month - February 24th:

Over the shoulder bowler bowls over an over the shoulder boulder holder moulder
posted by Elysum at 4:56 PM on March 21 [5 favorites]


Years ago, I got "life under Hun sen is no holiday in Cambodia" into the Asian wsj
posted by AJaffe at 7:00 PM on March 21 [1 favorite]


Back in 2000, plucky little Caledonian Thistle thrashed the mighty Celtic 3-1 on Celtic's home ground. Caledonian Thistle played out of their skins that day, but Celtic was lacklustre at best. Anxious to reflect these facts in next day's back-page headline, The Sun went with:

Super Caley Go Ballistic, Celtic Are Atrocious.

That headline itself made headlines for the rest of the day, and I hope the sub who wrote it was carried round the newsroom shoulder-high in triumph.
posted by Paul Slade at 3:20 AM on March 22 [4 favorites]


I miss the UK tabloids sports headlines! Being a Crystal Palace supporter, my favourite was about one of the first Chinese internationals to play professionally in England, Fan Zhiyi: "Fan Fans Fans Hopes"

Also the obscure German forward who played for Man City: "Uwe Fuchs are you?"
posted by ccalgreen at 7:19 AM on March 22


I think it was The Times which once reported Sir Vivian Fuchs' planned Arctic exhibition with a News in Brief headlined "Fuchs off to North Pole". A later expedition headed by the same man produced the NIB headline: "Fuchs off again".
posted by Paul Slade at 10:22 AM on March 22


Paul Slade: Super Caley Go Ballistic, Celtic Are Atrocious.

I was about to mention that but you beat me to it - here's the page in question.

I'm still proud of the headline I wrote years back for a review of the film adaptation of Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy: "Thumb Guys Have All The Luck".
posted by Len at 10:42 AM on March 22


A Reptile Dysfunction: Unlikely Sources of Salmonella
posted by hindmost at 1:11 AM on March 25


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