A sub-editor’s dream news story

November 26, 2010
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There are some headlines that simply state the facts, there are those that offer a subtle humour and then there are those that, well, smack you between the eyes and say “read this freakish bit of info”.

The Mail Online* offered this gem: “Long-lost son finds out, after 33 years apart, his mother is a bearded hermaphrodite who used to be a hit at the circus… thanks to George the Giant”

I realise I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m fairly sure most people would find that intriguing and would be keen to read more. So I did.

And  you know what? The story was exactly as stated in the headline:  Richard Lorenc, of Kansas, decided to track down his biological mother and yes, she did indeed turn out to be a bearded woman who performed at circuses. Apparently, hypertrichosis (also known as werewolf syndrome) is a family trait on his mum’s side, with his maternal grandmother having the same disorder.

As someone who was a newspaper sub-editor for a couple of decades, one of the unwritten rules of headline writing is to entice people in to the story, to not tell too much. In theory, this headline told the whole thing but in proof of that old saying about rules being made to be broken, it was weird enough to make me want to read the thing.

UPDATE

  • Long-lost son finds out, after 33 years apart, his mother is a bearded hermaphrodite who used to be a hit at the circus… thanks to George the Giant

The link to the story no longer works (what are you playing at Daily Mail? Hiding your creativity isn’t good). Anyway, the link now takes you to a message board with the text of the original story. And photos, don’t forget the photos!

* Yes, I know I said I wasn’t going to read it any more but it popped up in a Google search for bearded and circus. So shoot me.

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