Number as a headline.

I don’t know what bugs me worse: a number used as a headline over a short story, or my reading the damn story. Back in the old days, they would be called fillers. And I suppose they do break up a grey page. (Perhaps Patrick Garvin of The Boston Globe can inform us what the copy desk calls them.)

What brings this on are two examples in today’s (Nov. 7, 2017) major Swedish national dailies. Svenska Dagbladet has an item with the headline “63” and the story continuing (I translate): “percent more individuals who have been diagnosed with gonorrhea in five years in Australia….” No total number is given, only number per 100,000. Dagens Nyheter has a similar story, but with the headline “23,800” with the continuing text “cases of gonorrhea.”

Reminds me of the example of competition in the 1950 newspaper classic, “The Kansas City Milkman,” where AP first reports a typhoon taking 1,000 lives, but UP catches up by reporting the toll as 1,500.

File under: Headlines we can live without.

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