Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Covering the Fire Coverage: Battle of the Screaming Headlines







Sing it with me: "One of these things is not like the other..." Indeed, the Los Angeles Times was alone among the major papers in the region this morning, sticking with the wordy (and kinda clunky -- try reading it out loud) headline, Massive evacuations ordered as onslaught of fires spreads.

Accurate, yes. But where's the sizzle? Where's the screaming smack to the face?

What's that? Daily News, you got something?

Oh yeah. HELL ON EARTH. Capital letters, large font... and the use of a word that once upon a time would have gotten a 6-year-old's mouth washed out with soap.

Advantage Daily News on the headline. But the LA Times at least delivers with that mondo, fire-drenched photo on the cover. The Daily News offered up... a map. Daily News, you promised HELL ON EARTH. So why aren't you showing me HELL ON EARTH?!

Turning to the other papers: The San Diego Union-Tribune probably boasts the most effective headine: 300,000 FLEE FIRES. It's simple, yet dramatic, and coupled with that huge photo, probably the most effective of the bunch.

The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin goes with EMPIRE ON FIRE. It rhymes.

Over in Riverside, the Press-Enterprise goes with one word: FIRESTORM. I kinda like it, although with one word headlines like that, in a font similar to the paper's nameplate, it suddenly looks like you're reading some publication called FIRESTORM.

The Orange County Register's page one editor has apparently been listening to their old Soul Asylum CD. RUNAWAY FLAMES, never going back/Wrong way on a one-way track.

Then there's the Santa Clarita Valley Signal. Things got pretty hairy out there. Yet the paper's headline, Wildfires Rage On, says... what? I'm not even sure. It sounds like the headlines we wrote in our high school newspaper ("Tennis team takes to the net," or "Basketball team shoots and scores"). Rage on, wildfires!

The Torrance Daily Breeze has another decent headline: The classic quote pull. Somebody, somewhere, described the fires as "like armageddon." Good enough for me. 'LIKE ARMAGEDDON' expresses what a lot of people were thinking.

The Ventura County Star does the same thing, but I'm not sure I like the quote as much. 'The sky was just red' is kinda interesting... but it doesn't really say how nasty things have been. I think of a red sunset when I hear that quote. When I hear the Daily Press' "armageddon" headline, I think of fire and brimstone.

Finally, the Bakersfield Californian goes all ultra-design on your ass, turning much of the page into a photo, with the headline, story and paper nameplate on top. Not bad.

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