"Boosh notes support of Neilson, Ovalson, Karris"
If that headline, which topped a story about a George Bush press release that listed some Utah supporters with their names spelled incorrectly, caught readers' fancy, let me introduce its creator, Anne Ferguson.A four-year veteran at the News, Ferguson explains somewhat defensively, "The copy editors are the ones who really write the headlines most people think the reporters write." And while she isn't the only News copy editor who can turn a catchy headline, her co-workers agree she's one of the best.
Although Ferguson insists she was "hatched out of an alligator egg," rumor has it she was born in Fullerton, Calif., and grew up in various burgs including Grants, N.M., and Tucson, Ariz. Her father, a mining engineer, "liked to move," she explains.
Ferguson began work as a full-time copy editor at the Deseret News in June 1984 after earning a master's in communications/journalism from Utah State University.
After what she describes as a rocky start ("I flunked my probation period," she laments, "but they must have seen potential!"), Ferguson blossomed into one of the most competent and creative on "the rim," as the copy editors are referred to in newsroom jargon. With a dry wit and a penchant for puns, she whips out headlines loaded with strong images and double-entendres. Some examples:
"Daylight-saving time drives Indiana clocks cuckoo"
"Big convoy encounters nothing dire in strait"
"U.S. once again inching toward metrification"
And the deceptively simple, "Dams in distress."
When asked what headline sticks in her mind as a favorite, the soft-spoken Ferguson replied, "One of my earliest: `Heating bills jumped when cold snapped.' It's been downhill ever since!"
She said her "favorite toy" is the English language. She loves to play with words, twisting them to suit the story and the headline space.
As may be expected, Ferguson also loves to read. "My most-read book is by Webster, but I prefer books with complete sentences."
Finding time to curl up with a "good read" has been a challenge of late, however, because of a fey feline named Matilda. Ferguson insists the kitten is hyperactive and has numerous scratches to prove it.
Ferguson has to admit, "I really love to write headlines. Copy editing is OK, but creating headlines is the fun part of the job."
Readers no doubt agree that hers are fun to read as well.