I wrote HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR, the most infamous headline in journalism. They have T-shirts with it on, and buttons. It's all right. It's not one of my favorite headlines. Nobody expected it to become a classic, the Night of the Living Dead of headlines. One afternoon I got a report that there had been a murder in a bar, and that one of the victims had had his or her head cut off. Someone said it might be a topless bar, but we weren't sure, and then the idea of the headline came around, so we were really questioning to make sure it was a topless bar. We sent the reporter, this girl, and she so determined that it was a topless bar. I just wrote it, and everyone said "ha ha," but I didn't think it would live in infamy.
Zap, zip, zonk, nix, those are good verbs. Short. Short and powerful. They've got to convey a sense of urgency. Nouns? Tots, kids, fire, you know -- SIX-ALARM FIRE. Blaze is good, but fire's shorter. Siege. Siege is good. Madman, maniac, fear. My favorite word is "coed." When you see coed, people want to buy the paper. I don't know why -- just some young, innocent girl getting into a lot of trouble. It's the dirty old man in people. It's a very sexy word.... Without the hyphen. Some people spell it with a hyphen, we spell it without the hyphen.
How do you tell a sensational story other than sensationally? What should it say: 'Decapitated cerebellum in licensed premises, wherein ladies baring mammaries have been seen, to wit, performing acts counter to social mores?' I don't think so.