1:03 pm Aug. 31, 2011
Each day, the New York tabloids vie to sell readers at the newsstands on outrageous headlines, dramatic photography, and, occasionally, great reporting. Who is today's winner?
Daily News: It's a great tabloid story that gets told over and over again and never really changes, other than having someone different each time in the role of stooge. Call it the Stripper Shock Special.
Today's victim is a man named W.A. Ilg, a resident of lower Manhattan who says in court papers that he went to Larry Flynt's Hustler Club on West 51st Street, drank, ordered lapdances and generally had a grand old time on an evening in May, but got so drunk that "he was no longer capable of conducting financial transactions."
That was OK, because the Hustler Club was willing to conduct them for him—and he woke up with a bill a little over $28,000. The champion of the form was Robert McCormick, a new-media C.E.O. who racked up a much bigger bill ($241,000) at Scores back in 2003; he settled with the club in 2006. But the News gives us a helpful round-up of other Stripper Shock victims covered by the tabloids over the last several years, and most of them are right around Ilg's league.
Really the value in the story is the headline you can write, as long as you don't do it too often. And the News, I think, did very nicely. In knockout-white text on a black field the enormous bold lettering reads "$28 G BOOBY TRAP," but to me the star of the show is the dek: "Strip-joint stooge sues club over boozy lap dance spree."
What a carnival of one-syllable Germanic morphemes! It's exactly what tabloid display-writing is all about. And I appreciate that the fishnet-stockinged legs of some random stripper were not provided as a backdrop, actually. Sometimes, the 10 right words are worth a thousand stock photos.
But the page would have been too texty if they gave the whole thing over to the story. I usually admire commitment, but today's decision to give about a third of the page to the extremely big New York Yankee pitcher C.C. Sabathia gives them the art they want, even if the story is just that the home team won a baseball game. More on that in a moment, though.
The New York Post: Not that it isn't important of course. The Yankees are now inching their way toward first place, with a decisive win over the Red Sox, who have creamed them this season. The result leaves them a half-game out of first in the A.L. East. It was dramatic too, with the Post choosing Francisco Cervelli's Green Monster-clearing home-run swing as the image to sell the story. It gets the whole page.
"BASH IN BOSTON" is fine, though nothing special; "Bombers batter Bosox" delivers nothing much more than continued alliteration, arguably the lowest form of tabloid headline writing. And that's all they wrote.
Observations: What does the News lose with the smaller play on the Yankees-Red Sox game? Nothing, in my opinion. So the Stripper Shock Special headline-writing is all icing.
Winner: Daily News.