One of the countless headlines I’ve written over the years sticks in my mind because it was so stupid.
The banner I splashed across the front page of the Worcester Evening Gazette sometime around 1961 read:
“Icy Area Slithers And Skids”
It was of course a weather story, and I was trying to convey the idea that the particular affliction on this Massachusetts winter day was ice on the roads. One might well ask how an area could slither and skid, and of course the answer is it can’t. But perhaps I can provide some background, in explanation if not in extenuation.
Daily newspapers and other media anchored in a particular jurisdiction, then and now, see a need to reach out to people on the outskirts. They employ various stratagems to do so, most of them clumsy. Media around Washington, DC, for example, currently use DMV, which they intend to stand for District, Maryland and Virginia although the translation that more readily springs to mind is Department of Motor Vehicles. When I worked for the Toronto Star, we used the term “Metro” to stand for our circulation area although to others that’s a term for a subway. Now the Star staff uses GTA, which apparently stands for “Greater Toronto Area.”
So back in my day the term for Worcester and Worcester County was “Area,” and it had both animate and inanimate usage.
It’s still a dumb headline, but now at least you have an idea of how it got up there.