The focus of this short blog entry concerns publications that rely on alliteration as their form of creativity in their headlines. On April 6, 2010, an online publication called channel3000.com published an article about panhandling in Madison, Wis. I was not overly impressed with the story, perhaps due-in-part to the story's headline: "Peace Park Poses Panhandling Problem." I think the real problem wasn't the panhandling, it was how the p's were handled in the headline.
Along these lines, the Cedar Rapids Gazette posted an article online on April 5 that ironically also used the alliteration of p's. Entitled, "Man charged for prostitution, porn and pot," the short story focused on one man who showed nude photos to a 15-year-old male, attempted to trade money for sexual acts with the boy and also provided marijuana to him on several occasions. The problem with this story was the fact that the real focus of the story was scrambled by the headline. According to the article, the man was arrested for these things because the child was 15. The wording of the headline makes it seem that the man was charged for prostitution, porn and pot. Although this is true, the focus should have been on the fact that the man did these things to and for a child. This becomes lost by the writer's alliteration headline.
Both articles attempted to be quirky in their headlines by highlighting the harsh p sound. The problem therein lies. "Peace Park Poses Panhandling Problem" is too much alliteration for the headline because of the harsh p sound. A person probably couldn't say this headline aloud without laughing or pausing for breath somewhere. At least the man charged with "prostitution, porn and pot" headline flows nicely, or at least better than the other.
I have no problem with alliteration; I use it quite frequently. The problem I have with it, however, occurs when writers force alliteration. If a person uses it, it should flow and add to the story's overall effect. It shouldn't hinder the reader's comprehension of the story or the story's effectiveness.
So, in conclusion:
Please permanently prohibit further use of preposterous problematic alliteration from your headlines. You make my ears bleed. On behalf of the people of my country... refrain!