Public Editor

To pun or not to pun?

Updated: 2013-11-20T23:37:37Z

By Derek Donovan

The Kansas City Star

An emailer sent in his thoughts about puns in The Star, and they weren’t the kind of feedback I normally hear:

“Love those play-on-words headlines front page of the sport section,” he wrote. “Guess my favorite was ‘Reign Delay.’ So much fun.”

His example here was from the Royals 2013 special section that ran on March 31, looking at the team’s longest postseason drought among all U.S. pro sports teams.

But most of the time, I hear comments about punny headlines like this one from earlier this year: “Leave the word games to Alex Trebek, Kansas City Star headline writers.”

Nothing’s more subjective than comedy, to be sure. But I do wonder if the fans of the puns and other levity in headlines aren’t just a not-very-vocal majority. I know I often laugh at them, even if it’s with a little groan simultaneously.

I’ve also heard from readers over the years saying they don’t mind the funny headlines on frivolous stories, but they’re out of place in serious news. I’m with them there. There’s a time and a place, but a crime story wouldn’t be it, for example.

To reach Derek Donovan, call 816-234-4487 weekday mornings or send email to Follow him at

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