Blogs » Your Advocate: an editor's blog » What headline would you put on the Ratcliff story?


We had a lengthy discussion tonight about what headline to use on the big story of the day about Michael Ratcliff's plea bargain.

We aim for every headline in this situation to work well with the accompanying photo. In this case, we chose a photo of the former sheriff walking away from the Victoria County courthouse. We thought this picture was the most storytelling because Ratcliff was not going to serve any jail time as part of the plea bargain.

For a bit, we considered the headline of "Ratcliff walks." The headline certainly matched the image showing Ratcliff walking. We discussed a subhead along these lines: "Former sheriff avoids jail time, gets probation."

However, some editors gathered around the computer screen questioned whether this headline was completely accurate. Generally, the argument went, when you say suspects walk, it means they are acquitted or receive no punishment.

In the end, we decided to play it as straight as possible with this headline: "No jail time."

What two or three words would you choose for a top-of-the-front-page headline for this story?