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Celebrating the Currency of a Great Newspaper Headline

If you click the Web version of a February 17, 2012 LA Times article by Devorah Lauter, the headline reads:”France’s Former Currency is Devalued to Zilch.” Not bad; and, as assistant managing editor for LAT copy desks Henry Fuhrmann noted during a fun Sunday afternoon presentation with colleagues at the Festival of Books, any time the word “zilch” can be worked into an article headline is usually a good thing.

But as the LA Times now does routinely, the print headline for this article was altogether different. Rather famously, here’s what copy editor Laura Dominick conjured up for the newspaper version:

This headline recently helped Dominick win second prize at the American Copy Editors Society (ACES) national conference in St. Louis. She beat out colleagues from the New York Times and Washington Post thanks to her cheeky franks-and-beans word play and several other headlines, including the equally memorable Gallic goof “Look, the Dark de Triomphe.”

The only person judged by an ACES panel to be better at this sort of thing for large-circulation newspapers in 2012 was Frank Christlieb of the Dallas Morning News. His Neil Armstrong obit headline was “First on Moon, Last to Boast of It”, while a report about healthier U.S. Army menu options was crowned by Christlieb with “Armed Services to Lean Up Their Mess.”

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