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Monday, 23 July, 2007

Mayor high, reporters smokin' after pipe program nixed

He came, he saw, he mothballed.

Ottawa's new mayor
Larry O'Brien vowed to scrap the city's crack kit distribution program when he was elected last November. .

"I don't mind being the mayor of a city [that] draws a line in the sand -- this has got to stop," he told reporters. "Even the crack addicts themselves are laughing us [sic]."

The program, which had been running since 2005, distributed crack pipe kits (which included heat-resistant glass pipes, filters and condoms) to addicts in the city. Proponents say it's reduced needle use in Ottawa and is therefore an effective way to prevent the spread of diseases like AIDS and hepatitis C. Similar programs exist in other Canadian cities including Vancouver, home of the even more controversial InSite safe injection site.

No one would deny that this story deals with a very serious public health and safety issue: drug addiction. But it is, after all, the silly season in terms of news coverage. The crack teams that people the nation's newsrooms took inspiration from the plight of Ottawa's substance abusers to engender an array of sparkling, UK tabloid-esque headlines.

Or maybe they just let the summer interns loose at the copy desk...

At any rate, here are our picks for the Top 3 crack pipe program headlines of the summer of 2007:

The Winnipeg Sun wins hands down with this puntastic double whammy.

2. (tie)

CTV and the CBC get a 10 for wordplay but a big fat 0 for originality.


Local Ottawa talk radio station CFRA gets top marks for this nice concise header that doesn't take up much air time.

Not to be outdone, we at NRM felt moved to pen our own punful headlines. Here's what we came up with:

Safe crack program nixed, no solution in the pipeline

Addicts fall through the cracks after pipe program cancelled

Ottawa mayor exhales with relief as crack pipe program scrapped

Think you've got a better headline? Add yours in the 'Comments' for this post.

Or, do you think journalists are addicted to puns and should stop making light of serious public health issues? Let us know.


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