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The musings of a Detroit-area sportswriter in the digital age.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An apology for a headline?

I noticed something while I was sitting in Metro Airport waiting for my flight to Sioux Falls, S.D., for the Summit League Tournament earlier this month: The Detroit Free Press had written an explaination of a headline it used when the American women's hockey team took the silver at the Vancouver Games.
Freep sports editor Gene Myers actually had to explain a headline, “Second-rate performance: Harper Woods’ Ruggiero, Americans settle for silver because of the negative feedback. I've never seen something like that.

“ ‘Wrong words for medal moment’ In last Friday’s Free Press, a headline over a story about the U.S. women’s loss to Canada in the gold-medal hockey game missed the mark. Upset readers criticized us for suggesting that the Americans did not put forth their best effort. The editor who wrote the headline didn’t mean to imply that and regrets the wording. In the Sports Department, there’s a framed front-page poster with this headline: “As gold as it gets.” It celebrates the U.S. women’s victory over Canada for the 1998 gold medal in Olympic hockey. A photo shows defenseman Angela Ruggiero, then an 18-year-old from Harper Woods, skating with the flag. She and her teammates played as hard this time as they did then. — GENE MYERS, SPORTS EDITOR”

We've taken some heat for our headlines, but I don’t recall any apologies being printed. Maybe some were offered by our sports editor, Jeff Kuehn, who handles all reader inquiries with delicate precision.
Personally, I also don’t like the headline, but it’s not terrible. It’s definitely not bad enough for this treatment, and I can feel for the copy editor who wrote it.
The apology really surprised me and I hope we never have to go down that road, because when the pressure is on at the end of the night and you have to get the pages to the press, too often, there aren’t that many people to double-check and suggest alternate headlines. And if they do, there’s not always time to change them.


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