The Age has long played fast and loose with the noble colon in its headlines. Today, however, it displayed all its doubts about its use on one page.
First up we had Fake Vietnam vet pretty pathetic: judge.
Underneath this the sub-editors had an each-way bet over a colon’s placement with Brumby: investigate leaks.
And alongside that they capped it all off by indicating their complete confusion with Broadband: lines ‘not ugly’.
The correct use of a colon is to introduce a phrase, comment or self-contained statement related to the words used before the colon. Thus the Brumby headline gets the grammatical tick of approval. This means the first headline should have been reversed to read Judge: fake Vietnam vet pretty pathetic.
As for the third example, the colon leads us into believing that Broadband, like Brumby and the judge, was making a statement; which is simply not the case. It was Senator Conroy who defended broadband’s good looks. The colon was redundant and the headline would have made more sense without it.
Perhaps the Age needs a colonic irrigation.