Wednesday, January 06, 2010

There was a man who entered a local newspaper's pun contest...

...He sent in ten different puns, in the hope that at least one of the puns would win.

Unfortunately, no pun in ten did. *

When I grow up, I want to work for a newspaper. No, not as a journalist. Nor a columnist. Not even as an editor, copy writer, typesetter or any of those other important sounding jobs. No. I want to be that very special person employed by News Limited to create the most inane, cringe worthy, spectacular insults to modern day communications; that’s right – the person who comes up with the headlines.

Obviously, the pinnacle of this particular field would be being responsible for the front page of the Herald Scum, or some other capital city distributed tabloid rag. There’s challenge in such a job; three to seven words in the boldest of bold type, accompanied by a picture from a completely different story, in a daily paper which seeks an audience of society’s lowest common denominator. It must be defined by scandal, it can’t be too clever, and anyone who lives in a caravan backing on Kananook Creek must be able to relate to it in some way. Dodgy plumbers (Dishonest brutes taking advantage of widowed pensioners!), immigration scandals (Indian student gets bashed – own fault for listening to an MP3 player in public!), hard done by footballers (Sure, I raped that girl, but all I ask for is my wife’s understanding and support!) and other imminent threats to the Little Aussie Battler™ are king.

But sometimes, they really get it right:

But for those headline crafters who are lower down the ladder, they might get paid less, but there is a particularly silver lining in that very hefty cloud. Just as they must suffer, so must we, the readers. They have a captive audience, and very low standards to meet in the editing and readership world. They can resort to the most groan worthy, stupid, ill conceived, offensive, backwards, extremely un-witty, and sometimes – surprising and rare times – they pencil actually witty titles and headlines. In short, they can make Queensland look good. In case you haven’t worked out which particular litter box liners I’m talking about today, stand up and take a bow mX.

For the uninitiated, mX is a free daily Melbourne commuter rag, which appears to have very similar equivalents in every city I’ve visited, from Prague to Brisbane. Equally similar are the despondent uni students hired to hand them out at train stations around the globe. They really look the same everywhere, and not just because the logos and banner of these papers are virtually the same (yellow/orange/blue or red/black/blue), but because they’re poor bastards whose job it is to be surrounded by rude, arrogant commuters who are in a hurry to get home and be fed, bask in the warm glow of the telly or sit and cry in a dark corner or whatever it is that these people who can’t say ‘please’ or ‘thankyou’ do with their spare time. And they do it well. They tolerate the pushing and shoving, the snatching and the interfering, all the while resisting the urge to punch people. I couldn’t do it. Day one, and there’d be shredded bits of paper, Armani, and metcards everywhere.

Such is the quality of the mX that once upon a train, people seem to either settle into the crossword (which is shit), the sudoku (which is alright, but usually a bit on the novice side), the ‘witty’ one line observational comments about the world today interspersed among the pages (which are shit), or the ‘mX Talk’ pages (which are really shit). Or the quality journalism. Hahahah! – Oh, I’m clutching my sides!

I‘m one of the mX talk reading people. For the same reasons I cast an eye over the Andrew Bolt column whenever a copy of the Scum is left lurking near me, I like to peruse what the good people of Melbourne have to say about life, the universe and everything in the space of a text message. Just like Bolt, the submissions either remind me why I always keep an escape from Australia plan up my sleeve, or just leave me wordlessly shaking my head. That is, until I started submitting them myself.

In an effort to find out exactly how stupid a message the mX would accept, I started texting in numerous entries, all from different names, with the same mobile phone. So far, they’ve published every single one of them. Big and Beardy wrote in to the ‘Here’s looking at you’ column, requesting contact from someone of a non-specified gender who caught his eye after falling off a train platform and gaining assistance from a lawyer. In peak hour. The genius who published that one titled it “Platform Souls”. Another submission, this time from a shady character named “More punk than you”, detailed to the Melbourne public, in form of argument with both a non existent person and a non existent previous submission, exactly how influential Green Day were in the baby days of punk rock. So influential that they invented the flannelette shirt, it seems.

I intend to keep this going for as long as possible and encourage you all to join in. Let’s turn this paper from something disappointing and mundane into the absurd and confusing. Theological debates about Lego? Bring it on! Thinly disguised innuendo about unlikely subjects? The more the merrier! The beauty is that you don’t even need the paper itself to do this – all the numbers you need are here. General comments should be texted as VENT to 1994 4000. "Here’s looking at you" (train stalking colum) can be texted to the same number, with HERES in place of VENT. If you’re not in Melbourne, let us know you’ve submitted in the comments, and I’ll be sure to pick up a paper and keep you posted. The submissions usually take about two days to appear.

But lets face it. With headlines like mine, I'm never going to make it in this industry. Not unless I start to get some serious coaching. In the meantime I'Il leave the headlines to the professionals and get back to whatever it is I'm meant to be doing.

* Courtesy of Krus; aspiring News Limited editor.

** Big thanks to Mr Fandango Jones for capturing what would have to be the most entertaining Herald Scum headline of 2009.


Krus said...

My puns are like steak. A rare medium, well done.

captain feathers hoards said...

my prepaid account wouldn't let me send my post in! Can someone please send it in for me? The vent i attempted to send was:

"I was appalled today to see a myki ticket machine, with all the writing in chinese! This is australia, unless these machines are gonna learn english, they should go back to where they came from - judy, frankston"

I so want this published, please someone help me out! And fuck vodaphone!


Kit E said...

The new format is very green. I like it.
Now regale us with some of your adventures from across the seas!

Fatuous Anility said...