I can’t tell if this is some kind of subliminal advertising for a door company, or whether a sub-editor is having a really fun time with innuendo; either way, it’s slowly grinding my gears. So here, I shall open up with some ideas to axe the unoriginal-yet-bountiful phrase, “opens up”.
Opening up the numbers
Before I jump into solutions, here’s some context to illuminate the scale of the problem.
Of the 54,400 articles that have been written for PinkNews — the largest LGBT media outlet in the UK — 12,041 of them have contained the phrase “open up” or “opens up” in the headline. That’s 22% of articles they’ve ever published.
It’s not just Pink News either: Attitude have had at least 47 articles that reveal someone “opening up”, and Gay Times have had at least 12 since January 2017.1
Rewriting the news
It seems as though the journalists at these publications have simply run out of ideas for creative headlines; and I want to help. Sending every reporter at each publication a copy of the Oxford Thesaurus of English is probably a little passive-aggressive, though, so instead, let’s brainstorm!
I’ve picked 5 random headlines from across Pink News, Attitude and Gay Times. My task is to rewrite them so that they’re more interesting and they don’t use the phrase “opens up”.
“91-year-old opens up about being gay live on BBC Radio 5”
Daniel Megarry writes for Gay Times about Barbara Hoskin; a 91-year-old former civil servant who happens to also be a lesbian and to have written a book about her life. She’s great: the headline, not so much.
How about these alternative headlines?
“91-year-old former civil servant talks about coming out on BBC Radio 5”
“91-year-old lesbian shares her memories of being a ‘disobedient civil servant’ on BBC Radio 5”
“Former aide to the Prime Minister on coming out at 91-years-old”
“Tom Daley opens up about desire to start a family with ‘beautiful’ husband Dustin Lance Black”
This article from Attitude talks about how Olympian Tom Daley and Oscar-winner Dustin Lance Black want to start a family.
Now for some alternative headlines sans-“opening up”:
“Tom Daley wants to start a family with ‘beautiful’ husband Dustin Lance Black”
“Tom Daley talks about wanting children with his ‘beautiful’ husband Dustin Lance Black”
Or if you were being a bit more blunt: “Married couple want kids”
“Star Trek’s Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz open up about first gay kiss”
In this article from Pink News, Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz — Star Trek’s first ever same-sex couples — talk about their first kiss in the CBS and Netflix series, Star Trek Discovery. The show may have been out of this world, but this headline isn’t; some ideas:
“Star Trek’s Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz reveal the details of their first onscreen kiss”
“Star Trek’s first same-sex couple talk romance and kissing onscreen”
“All about Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz’s first onscreen kiss in Star Trek Discovery”
“‘It was love at first sight’: Policemen open up about Pride in London proposal”
Pink News covered this proposal at Pride in London. The use of “open up” in the headline is about as original now as proposing at Pride is. Some alternatives:
“‘It was love at first sight’: Policemen reveal all about their Pride in London proposal”
“Policemen who got engaged at Pride in London say ‘it was love at first sight’”
“‘It was love at first sight’: the story behind Pride in London policemen’s proposal”
“Husbands who now live as a ‘throuple’ with girlfriend open up about their unusual marriage”
Attitude profile the relationship of Chris, Matt and Kate in this article. They’re a throuple. Here’s some other ways they could have introduced their relationship without making it sound like some kind of shameful secret they need to “open up” about:
“Husbands who now live as a ‘throuple’ with girlfriend share the details of their unconventional marriage”
“What it’s like being in a ‘throuple’ from the husbands and girlfriend who live as one”
“Two husbands and girlfriend tell us what its like living as a ‘throuple’”
It’s really not that hard is it?
It took me less than 15 minutes to come up with 15 alternatives to these 5 headlines.
What can we learn from this? That the pink press can do better!
How I got these numbers: I searched for the terms
"opens up"using each website’s search engine. There are probably a lot of false positives in these numbers: I have no idea how good their search function is. ↩