Wednesday, April 23, 2008

It's official: No. 1 sign you should rewrite that headline

The Detroit Free Press is guilty of using the pointless "it's official." And this headline was taken directly from the lede. Can it get any worse?

This post comes directly from the Rip Your Hair Out Department at The Offlede. "It's official" has to be one of the most grossly overused, unnecessary phrases in newspaper and online headlines. Why?
  • It rarely adds anything.
  • You can always drop it from a headline without losing any vital information.
  • You could probably add it to most any headline without making it incorrect.
So, when you can add Something or take Something away from a headline without destroying its meaning, that's a big sign that Something is pointless (and not capitalized).

To illustrate how perpetual it is, I did a quick survey. "It's official" appeared in 212 article headlines on Google News over the last two weeks. The unpunctuated "Its official" (the "its" still meaning "it is") even appeared six times.

Here are some of the star examples:

It's official: Jake Long is a Miami Dolphin (The Palm Beach Post)
  • Can't you just say that he's a Dolphin?
It's Official: Brauchli Out At WSJ (The Washington Post)
  • No. It's not that it's official now: It's that it actually happened. Everything else before the actual happening was just speculation through "sources with knowledge of the situation but without the authority to speak with the press."
It's official: Hasek benched (Detroit Free Press)
  • When he was unofficially benched, where was he exactly? On the bench? The Freep was an especially egregious violator of the no-it's official rule. This particular one was taken from the story's lede. That's horrible and horribly uncreative headline writing.
It's official: Olive Garden is coming (Bismarck Tribune, N.D.)
  • Oh, thank goodness! There was that unofficial limbo period, and I was so worried it wouldn't really happen. Soup, salad and bread sticks for everyone!
It's Official: User-Generated Content is By and For Corny, Backward Philistines (Wired magazine)
  • A good, vindicating, strangely biblical one for some of you traditional journalists.
It's official: Sex therapists suck in bed (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Because everyone knew that before anyway. And finally, it has been written down.
Yup, it's official: Flint has shrinkage (The Flint Journal, Mich.)
  • Everyone knows it's cold up there.
It's official -- The Masters will forever be ESPNized (Orlando Sentinel)
  • Before it became official, the tournament was covertly ESPNized. Isn't that better than CBSized anyway?
It's official -- no state-sponsored cocktail (The McDowell News, N.C.)
It's official -- no clothesline ban (Oakville Beaver, Ontario)
  • Wait. Things can officially NOT happen?!
It's Official: Jenna Bush To Wed At Ranch (The ShowBuzz)
  • This must have been the lede: Despite his earlier threats of a veto, President Bush today signed a bill compelling his daughter to marry at his crib in Crawford, Texas.
It's Official: Mount Snow's Closing Date is Unofficial (AlpineZone News, Conn.)
  • There's nothing like unofficial officialism.
It's official, Alabama is the Soviet Union (The Huffington Post)
  • That's expected from Arianna.
It's official: Mountain named in honor of combat fatality (Winston-Salem Journal, N.C.)
It's official: Piestewa Peak name OK'd (East Valley Tribune, Ariz.)
It's Official: Piestewa Peak (Reznet News, Mont.)
Squaw Peak officially Piestewa Peak (The Arizona Republic)
  • Same story. Different newspapers. Same official headline. This was the fault of none other than The Associated Press. Other newspapers thought it necessary to keep the AP editor's "official" in their versions of the headline.
It's official: FairPoint closes Verizon deal (Mainebiz Daily)
  • When did they unofficially close it?
It's official: Rangers vs. Devils in playoffs (Newsday)
  • Like, so, yeah, it became official when the teams advanced to the next round, right? Or what?


Anonymous said...

It's official: You've overstated your point.

Though it IS a good point.

Andrew Knapp said...

I tend to go overboard sometimes. You probably noticed in other posts, too.