The cringeworthy pun on Phillip Hughes

Newspapers punning in a headline where death is the subject insult their reader’s intelligence

bikram

Bikram Vohra | November 28, 2014



When we were taught English in school we were told that a pun was no fun if it went overboard or overstayed its presence in an essay. Once in a while if it was clever and subtle enough, it could add a little flavor to the writing but generally it was not a metaphor and did nothing to improve your language.

When we became journalists or so called professional writers we were warned by sour and grumpy chief subs that if they saw a pun in the headline they would throw the spike at us.

Especially, if the pun was in bad taste.

And I am thinking how things have changed. Look at this Phil Hughes tragedy. The media writing up his incredibly sad death by playing on his name. A Hughes loss.

A what????

Can you believe anything so crass and the guy who thought of this tasteless, hurtful cleverness is patting himself on the back and saying, gee, aren’t I smart.

Anyone who made this labored effort at being insensitive clearly did not go to a conservative journalism school. How can you even think of punning in a headline where death is the subject and a death so poignant? Here we are, members of the fourth estate playing word games with his name.

I am reading this headline on a plane and thinking, did they really sit there, the night shift and say, oh we are running the Phil Hughes tragedy but let’s brighten it up, make it more attractive, catch the reader’s eye, let’s muck around with his name. Punning has become so common in Indian newspaper headlines that you flinch every time you read one.

How did these professionals think it was okay to lighten up the proceedings? The guy died. His name was Hughes. It has nothing to do with huge.

You ask me, it is cringeworthy and the newspapers that do this insult their reader’s intelligence.

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