Wednesday, July 30, 2008

When Words Collide

AFTER 7 YEARS, TALKS COLLAPSE ON WORLD TRADE
Sometimes a perfectly good headline is less than perfectly good. Recent history makes it clear that "world trade" and "collapse" are best kept apart in references to anything other than the World Trade Center's collapse, and the juxtaposition with a reference to seven years, seven years after 2001 in a New York newspaper, makes it all especially unfortunate. I cringed when I first glimpsed this headline, and I suspect it was changed for later editions.

10 comments:

simon h b said...

Not sure I agree with you on this one, Bill - I read the headline and didn't guess what the problem you'd found with it would be.

Amy said...

The NY Times Web site has "After 7 Years, Talks on Trade Collapse," so I guess someone had second thoughts on that headline.

Bill said...

I figured later-edition headlines would be different, based on the Web change and my faith in the general excellence of the NYT's editing, but the "late edition" page image on the NYT site contains the same "world trade" hed. Is Simon right -- it's just me?

RJ said...

I read it in the unfortunate way as well. It wasn't even until after I read the comments here that I realized it was referring to "world trade" in general.

E.K. Hornbeck said...

I'm inclined to agree with Bill. In addition to his point, a second consideration is that alert readers have come to expect some newspaper headlines to contain clever word associations, puns, and other word play. It would be unfortunate indeed if this headline were to be misconstrued as intentionally playing on the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.

Karen said...

Agree with Bill and with RJ. Not only did I cringe at the proximity of the terms, but I initially assumed the story involved the rebuilding on the WTC site (a hazard of upstyle and uppercase heds). I think that was reinforced by the "7 years" reference. So the headline is problematic in a few ways.

Robert Davey said...

I agree with Bill--when I first read the headline I found it confusing, and on second read, even though the intended meaning is not hard to see, there's no doubt the hed unfortunately and unintentionally conjures 9/11 associations.

Nick said...

Something tells me that a rimmer wrote that in jest, and a hurried slot didn't get that....

Oh, wait. Maybe the NYT really is a much more professional place than my shop?

me said...

I agree. When I grabbed the paper that day I quickly read the heds and had to do a double-take on this one, as if to say, 'No, the Times wouldn't use THAT hed, would they?' Like, duh. Bad choice, IMHO.

Andrew said...

Yep. This ref tosses that pitcher from the ballpark. Looks too intentional to let slide, even if it really wasn't.