How do such headlines get through?

Published: June 29, 2010
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The (wrong?) headline for The A-Team: Man-on-man action and explosions

What should I make of the following headline in Dawn, Images, June 27 for a movie review on The A-Team?

Their regular reviewer (he seems to be writing for a number of years, though mostly forgettable reviews) Mohammad Kamran Jawaid wrote the piece, and I am assuming that he gave the headline which is:

Man-on-man action and explosions

(Incidentally, Mr Jawaid’s movie reviews invariably have a ‘Second opinion’ by someone by the name of Farheen Jawaid – and even if the two aren’t related I wonder why would you need a ‘second opinion’ to a movie reviews, especially by someone not very well known).

Now I’m not exactly a pervert but I think the first thing that would come to my mind if I saw such a headline in any newspaper – anywhere – would NOT be that I am about to read a review of The A-Team. Brokeback Mountain perhaps, but certainly not a redux of the classic television series.

Of course, there are other kinds of headlines as well – including one in the newspaper that I work for now (lest I be accused of going only after the competition) – which said something to the effect that Coke Studio had upstaged Cyclone Phet! What would be the need for drawing a disastrous storm which killed dozens of people into a headline with a music event?

This all reminds me of an article done by a journalist for Dawn’s Sunday magazine (some years ago when it was still in its pristine form). She had written about her cat and how she loved her cat and in it she also mentioned the one time that the cat had gotten wet.

Now this was fine, of course, but the only issue was that she had used the short form of ‘pussy cat’ for her cat’s name. Turned out her cat’s name was that and hence she was using it – rather liberally – throughout the piece. And since it was her cat, she kept using ‘my’ and the adjective ‘wet’. Made for some funny reading and even funnier when (tried as her supervisor did) she just didn’t get that she probably needed to use a different name for her cat. Of course, before it went into print, the article was amended.

However, my point still stands – how do we, as journalists, not know the connotations and other meanings that headlines or phrases have? But then again, perhaps its good some of us don’t – because it makes for good comic relief.

Omar R Quraishi

Omar R Quraishi

The editor of the editorial pages of The Express Tribune. He tweets as @omar_quraishi (twitter.com/omar_quraishi)

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