Headline writing is difficult. Try it sometime. Try taking a 500-word story and coming up with a teaser in a few words that will capture the essence of the piece and get people interested in reading further.
A number of years ago, the Mirror adopted the style of "centerpiece" or "hammer heads," at least on section fronts, that you often see in bigger type. These are only a couple of words following by a more informative subhead.
Staff members on the respective desks usually bounce headline possibilities off each other to see which is preferred. Since we like to "get our whole brain working," (an Ed Krugerism), other staffers feel the freedom to call or e-mail suggested headlines on the big news events, election night or football weekends to highlight the Penn State and Steeler Extra sections.
Which brings us to the Steelers' Super Bowl drive.
Scott Franco, whose headlines have been recognized by the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, had made up his mind if the Steelers beat the Jets in the AFC Championship game, the headline ought to be "Stairway to 7."
The best headlines are the play-on-words that reflect a double meaning, in this case the Steelers moving closer to their seventh Super Bowl title with a takeoff on Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven."
It turns out we weren't alone: T-shirts were quickly being printed after the AFC final with that slogan, not to mention WTAJ trumpeting its coverage with the same header.
Fast forward to the Super Bowl. We knew if the Steelers won that the most-popular headline would have been "Seventh heaven."
Their loss brought "Seven can wait," which must have been good because most media outlets used it. At the same time, if it's that good, not everyone would think of it.
On Page A1, we used "Texas toast," suggested by Ray Eckenrode, another award-winning headline writer during his days in the newsroom. "Texas toast" also hit the double meaning since the game was in Dallas and the Steelers were, well, toasted.
Skilled headline writing is a gift - even when your favorite team loses.
We would hope any and every family would settle whatever differences there may be prior to running someone's obituary.
That, unfortunately, wasn't the case in a couple of instances recently, including an apparent death-bed request not to include his wife's name in the obit.
The funeral home delivered the information, and when it was printed, the departed's wife came to the Mirror and pleaded to be included.
Our obituary writers (Suzanne McGaffin, Joan Thompson and Beth Lovell) are compassionate and meticulous, but we are not set up for this level of grief counseling - not while sometimes taking double-digit obits per day.
This is why we absolutely must maintain the policy that information must come to us from the funeral home.
After several weeks without our restaurant compliance reports that run on Mondays, due to a technical snafu, the information has returned.
It's interesting how many of you noticed.
I had one cordial conversation with a reader who wondered whether they had been discontinued but also thinks we ought to be doing restaurant reviews.
My explanation is I just don't think that would fly in a market of this size.
Restaurants have a tough enough go, let alone having someone who is not an expert but simply carrying out an assignment showing up on a busy night and finding a steak slightly overcooked.
The Philadelphia Inquirer, which has a food critic likely with a culinary background, probably can get away with it. I'm not sure we can or would want to.
Our answer is our monthly "Behind the plates," series that runs in the Life section and focuses on the locally owned restaurants, their history and their specialties, without assigning a rating.
Just as we wouldn't subjectively give four stars or two stars - publicly - to any other business we walked into.
Happy Valentine's Day
To all the loving people in my life.
(Dianne, are you listening?)
Mirror Managing Editor Neil Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.