Who’s your daddy?

By Dad, the writer of this The Freeman headline meant a Cebu City Councilor. “After child fell to death: Dad wants condos’ permits checked.” The presence of the word “child,” however, makes one assume that the Dad in the headline refers to the father.

The use of “dad” to mean a councilor is apparently based on that old phrase “city father” to mean a council member. It’s so last century, as dated as the word “cager” to refer to a basketball player. It’s a forgotten era – a time when people apparently played basketball in caged courts.

But local newspapers continue to use it along with words like hizzoner to refer to the mayor, apparently a contraction of “his honor.”

Headlinese such as “dad” or “cager” should be retired. Its use is lazy and confusing to people outside the newsroom. How many non-journalists actually understand Dad to mean a councilor? How about a female councilor, should we call her Mom in the headline?

I’ve only read this in local news reports. Dad is a common headline word.

I checked the print version of the story and while space is limited, it could be rephrased in such a way as not to use “dad”:

Check permits
of condo: Gealon

Gealon seeks check
on condo permits

But at the very least, rewrite the headline for the website or social media. These don’t have the space limitations of print. I think one can argue that online headlines can be much longer – closer to a Tweet than a traditional headline. In this story’s case, the online headline could be: Councilor Gealon wants condo’s permits checked after fatal fall of 4-year-old boy.

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