This time I have to thank Steve Miller for posting about this headline on his Facebook wall. Because of that, I wound up searching for the exact wording and discovered the precise location of the travesty of usage that is
I don’t know how long the link will remain active, so: CHAVEZ CANCER RETURNS, NAMES SUCCESSOR.
What, now? Who is Chavez Cancer? (Steve has some ideas about that, apparently.)
Honestly, even had it read “Chavez’s Cancer” the result wouldn’t be much better. The cancer is still naming a successor. At least the original version has some black(er) humor. It’s headlines like this that make my editor-senses twitch fitfully, my fingers curl into claws, and my eyes narrow. My gaze becomes fire. Smoky tendrils waft up from my ears. Is it really that difficult to write a headline that doesn’t scream “IDIOT!”? What’s wrong with “Cancer Returns, Chavez Names Successor”? It uses all the same words, and makes the point without causing editorial rage. I think it’s a plot by the website to lure me there.