I know, from my days as features editor of my high school paper (way back when), that writing headlines isn’t easy.
Skimming an article, capturing its essence, making the header fit — it’s a challenge. Two recent TH headlines are noteworthy. One made me cringe, the other gave me an unintended laugh.
First: “Cameras in federal courtrooms an idea that’s time has come.” (March 24) Nope, sorry. It’s an idea whose time has come. True, an idea is not a person, but grammarians everywhere agree, it’s a myth that “whose” shouldn’t be used in reference to inanimate things. “Whose” is the genitive (or possessive) case of both “who” and “which.” And “that’s” is short for “that is” or “that has.” Saying “an idea that is (or that has) time has come” is just silly. There is no possessive form of “that.”
Then there is this headline from an article on orchids (March 27): “Care for them even after they die.” What? Why? Don’t we work hard enough on plants that are alive?
I read the article to learn that we’re actually supposed to continue caring for the plant after the flowers die, not the whole darn plant. Whew. Imagine the workload if we had to continue watering, fertilizing, and talking to all the dead houseplants in our lifetimes. I will admit this head-scratching headline did compel me to read the article. So you win, TH headline writer. Sort of.