Danger Zone: The Oregonian Tries Funny Headline
Recently the Oregonian’s David Reinhard had a column called “On the Ground in Bagdhdad: How Goes the Battle?” which I thought was a bit of a reach. I mean the only forward position David Reinhard is in is if he leans forward at his desk. Now I see the Oregonian is trying humor with their front page story called “Humans, chimps may have swung together twice”, which sounds like its from the Daily Show or the Onion website. The local paper probably got the title from the wire service, although the Oregonian staff is responsible for their own headlines and often rewrites column headlines from other papers. So what about this one? It’s clever: You have the play on words between swinging through the trees on vines and sexual swinging which covers the topic of human-monkey intercourse with about as much grace as possible. So my verdict: This is funny given the difficulty of the subject – a rare although perhaps misplaced professional-quality comedic line.
Now let’s see how quickly you can get in trouble once you introduce this level of humor to your normally stodgy newspaper. Comedy creates an atmosphere which is why most dinner speakers start with a joke, but then announce that they are now going to be serious. They establish that wall and return the right level to the room. A newspaper doesn't have the same opportunity to rein the tone in and return to serious. Let me skip to the point: If the Oregonian is going to go with a headline like this, they should - under no circumstances - also have a headline on the front page of today's Living Section called “Sponsoring a girl with a goat”. Unfortunately, they do. Comedy is a dangerous thing. Leave it to the professionals. Stick to writing brave-sounding headlines about David Reinhard - it’s what you do best.