Archives for category: One For Fun

Pulitzer prize-winner Gene Weingarten wrote a funny ode to copy editors in his Sunday column for the Washington Post.

From start to finish, it’s an entertaining frolic that defends the craft. Editors and management should read it and think twice about slashing entire copy desks when layoff time comes around.

Weingarten won acclaim for his 2007 profile of classical violinist Joshua Bell busking in a Washington subway station. People called it innovative and unusual. There was a lot of ooohing and ahhing when the time-lapse video was posted to the Post’s website a few days later.

Turns out the seed for his story was planted long ago. But I’ll let Weingarten tell the tale.

While election coverage may be on hiatus, speculation on who will be our next president is about to run wild.

Sean Connelley of the Los Angeles Times created an interactive, embeddable map that lets you test different electoral vote scenarios.

Think Wisconsin will go to McCain? Click and the state turns red. Believe the die-hard Democrats and progressives will come out in force? Click again and the state turns blue.

Assign a color based on which way you think each state will go, then click “share” and embed the map anywhere to trumpet your predictive prowess or just show what it will take for Obama or McCain to get into the Oval Office.

Politics may be serious business, but as the jockeying during primaries has proven, it’s also a bit of a game.

A friend who loves news but isn’t in the news business forwarded this to me. It’s a pretty dead-on, yet sad commentary on the state of cable news.

Ricochet’s hed-to-hed competition went neck and neck, with a near photo-finish between two entrants. In the end, the headlines by Jenny Cromie took the tape.

Contest judge Matthew Crowley had some funny, instructive advice in his assessment:

All of Jenny’s were complete and accurate and summarized their stories.

The Marriott headline used all of those p’s to sonic use (not to be confused with Sonic Youth, which is a band). I realize Inga Hensen’s head for this is almost the same, but Jenny’s referenced pay-per-view, which I think is a key detail….

I liked the following in the footsteps one for the kite skier. What’s also important is that Jenny’s head uses “great-grandfather” and not the name. This is important because, for the general reader, “Hurley” probably isn’t an instant “I-know-who-he-is” name….

And Jenny’s marathon head mentions the race and the song and dance, putting key elements together. I don’t think you could leave the race out, although I did like Inga’s reference to awareness-raising.

Crowley also gave honorable mentions “for style and snap” to individual entries by Lizz Westman (“Marriott Hotels May Say ‘Kiss Off’ To Adult Movies”) and Anna Curtis (“Arctic Kite-Skier Prepares To Walk South Until She Gloats”).

Thanks to everyone who entered. And Jenny, your Threadless gift certificate will be arriving in your emailbox shortly.

Las Vegas Review-Journal copy editor Matthew Crowley has graciously agreed to judge Ricochet’s headline writing competition.

Crowley won the American Copy Editors Society “Best Headlines of the Year” contest in the newspapers with circulations between 100,001 and 250,000 category.

Judges gave his work special citation, saying:

In a time when newspapers need more than ever to shake off the stiff, stentorian conventions of the past and work harder to connect with readers, Crowley’s heads make the reader feel as if he or she is dropping into the middle of a coffee-shop conversation. And they make the reader want to dive into the stories and continue the conversation.

See Crowley’s winning portfolio and take your own crack and headline writing in the Hed to Hed competition.

The American Copy Editors Society doled out awards for best headlines of the year Thursday, highlighting what peers deemed exemplars of “the quality of copy editing amid dwindling resources, tighter deadlines and more work.”

In the spirit of copyediting greatness, this week’s One for Fun is a headline contest.

April 15 Update: In the spirit of Tax Day (in the U.S.) the entry deadline has been extended to April 18.

The rules:

  • Entries must be posted in comments by April 16 April 18, 9 p.m. Pacific Time.
  • Write one headline per story. (Hit Ricochet with your best shot.)
  • Entries with fewer (or more) than three headlines will be disqualified.
  • Headlines must make sense on their own — no relying on a dek/drophed/subhed for additional context. If you’re having trouble visualizing why, look at this.
  • Headlines must be no more than 60 characters long. (Use this to check your character count.)
  • The usual standards of news-appropriate language apply. No obscenities.
  • One entry per person.

The instructions:

  • Post your entry in comments and include your email. I need a way to contact you if you win.
  • Use the format:
    1. (headline)
    2. (headline)
    3. (headline)

The judging: Entries will be evaluated on appropriateness, understandability, keywordiness and clickability (interesting beats boring). Additional details on how judging will be conducted TBA.

The prize: A $25 gift certificate for Threadless, ’cause who doesn’t want a really cool T-shirt?

The stories:

  1. Several conservative groups, including the American Family Association, are asking Marriott International Inc. to stop giving hotel guests the option of ordering pay-per-view movies with strong sexual content. (full text)

  2. Six Maasai warriors in London for Sunday’s marathon saw the city from 450 feet yesterday and could not resist the chance to show their appreciation with a song. (full text)

  3. If you have recently seen a petite woman, 162 centimetres tall and 50 kilograms, trying to pile on the pounds by pulling a makeshift sled of tyres across the soft sands of Sydney’s beaches, you have probably met Flip Byrnes, great-granddaughter of Frank Hurley, the legendary Antarctic photographer. (full text)

Good luck to all entrants!

It’s the end of the week, which means time for Ricochet’s One for Fun.

Today, I’m giving away private beta invites.

Update: All the invites are gone. If I get more in the future, I’ll post a new note.

Mapfaced allows users to create, search for and rate food and drink crawls in New York City. It’s positioned to be part map mashup, part Yelp.

Evernote is a multiplatform notetaking and clip organizing tool. It’s been around since at least 2005, but the new incarnation allows you to pass clips to Evernote from PCs (Windows XP/Vista) and Macs (Leopard), phones running Windows Media, and Web browsers (Firefox 2, Safari 3, IE7).

There’s even an alpha test of IMAP support, so iPhone users can browse, clip and send to an Evernote account too.

Want to check either of these out? Post a comment telling me which site you’d like to try (one site only) and your email. And if you have a favorite bar or restaurant you’d like to recommend, post that too.

I’ve only got a few invites for each site. First come, first served.

Yes, I realize this was first posted last Friday. And yes, I realize the story is about the demise of pubs where journalists would congregate to talk to sources and each other. But it’s a good piece (though the London segment was lame) and it’s the weekend.

While the video focuses on the longtime hangouts that have had to close due to a loss of patronage, I wonder where journalists are going now to congregate and unwind? Post your favorite bar and news organization affiliation in comments or send me an email — I feel a mapping opportunity coming on.

Meanwhile, here’s “Journalism Watering Holes Disappearing” from MarketWatch.

Not everyone is grousing in newsland.

I recently mentioned the launch of, an anonymous rant site for news people fed up with their jobs.

Just a few days ago, Denver Post programmer Joe Murphy accentuated the positive by launching upbeat confessional site

Though there aren’t nearly as many posts, many of them include names and links. In addition, Murphy has a spinoff post that suggests other as-yet unclaimed domains, including and IwishIwasajournalistbutIgotintoPRinstead(.com).

There is something to smile about amid the chaos and cutbacks.

(via Meranda Writes)

Poynter Online announced an inspired competition this morning: the Valentine’s Day Short Writing Contest.

You will be limited to three lines of text (one or two is acceptable), and a total of 10 characters, as in “Hubba hubba!”

You may enter in any one of three categories (or all three):
Journalism love: “Nice Lede!”
Presidential candidate love (or hate): “Huck – a – bee.”
Or generic love or lust (rated PG-13, please): “My space?”

Create a heart and send the screen grab to by Feb. 13.

Enter early, enter often. Additional details are on Poynter.