Certain jobs stick with you. I worked behind a deli counter when I was a kid; I knew the differences between a dozen different cheeses, and today I can hardly distinguish between mozzarella and grated Swiss. Ditto with working in a record store: I knew all the Top 40 bands, and I knew which hit songs appeared on which albums. Five minutes after I walked out, that knowledge vanished.
But once an editor, always an editor. You just can't shake it. And in reading daily headlines with an editor's eye, you catch certain things.
Barbara Asher is a professional dominatrix who was charged with watching a 53-year-old man die on her bondage rack before cutting up his body and dumping the pieces in a trash bin. She was acquitted this week. The prosecution failed to produce a body, despite claiming to know exactly where Asher had dumped the body; and the police claimed she had confessed, but they didn't record it and they couldn't produce any interview notes. Whether or not she's guilty, there was certainly reasonable doubt, so the jury was correct.
The story was interesting enough, I suppose — although less for the sex than for the notion of prosecuting a murder without proof of death — but what caught my editor's eye was the CNN front page reporting the story. Within 24 hours, they changed the headline three times.
They began with:
- Dominatrix acquitted on manslaughter charges.
Hence this revision:
- Dominatrix beats murder rap.
...Except, no. That pesky journalistic integrity. She wasn't actually charged with murder.
- Dominatrix beats manslaughter rap.