Magazine article The Christian Century

Headline News

Magazine article The Christian Century

Headline News

Article excerpt

Readers send us instances in which misused words, typographical errors or strange turns of phrase provoke chuckles. The backlog of these is large, a fact that makes it possible for me to dip into the pile to illustrate almost any kind of point. The point today has to do with headlines gone astray.

Presbyterians Pro-Life News not too long ago bannered the headline "Imminent Theologian Points Toward Reformed Understanding of Unborn." The bold print lead-in to the article begins, "Thomas T. Torrance, one of the world's most imminent contemporary reformed scholars ..." Until we read that, we had always thought of Tom Torrance as a keeper of deadlines and a maker of appearances. Now we learn he's always on the edge of doing whatever he is doing.

Sports pages give us many examples. A Raleigh News-Observer headline screams "Christ the King Falls at Buzzer." It would be interesting to see what early Christians would have made of that.

But enough frivolity. Now to the grim point. I begin with the proposal that the Religion Newswriters Association needs a complementary group, a Religion Headlinewriters Association. RNA members' stories tend to be of high quality. The writers spend considerable energy getting things right. But the writers of headlines can, and often do, mess up those stories.

Recently, newswriters covered the votes by the House of Bishops ("overwhelmingly" pro) and the House of Deputies ("overwhelmingly" pro) at the Episcopal Church's General Convention in Denver. …

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