Sometimes wordplay is just not appropriate

Wordplay can be a great tool for the clever writer. A nifty play on words makes your writing more memorable, and can bring your readers a laugh. But sometimes it’s just not appropriate, as in this headline from Global BC, a local news outlet in Vancouver:

Convicted killer convicted of killing killer wife in Surrey

The gist of the story is that two people who had both served jail terms for murder were married, and the husband has just been convicted of killing the wife. But come on. That headline is too cutesy, too playful to be used in a murder case. It’s disrespectful to the woman who was killed, who, regardless of what she may have done in the past, was a human being, and was apparently murdered by her husband. The headline implies that the whole thing is kind of funny. Global, murder ain’t funny. Badly done.

Further, a headline’s main job is to tell a reader what the story they’re about to read is all about. Headlines should be digestible at a glance. This head-scratcher fails on that count, too.

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