I agree with you. Though the first example is clever, there is nothing funny about domestic violence so it is inappropriate.
I did appreciate the turn of phrase in the second one. Quite witty!
Sometimes a clever turn of phrase can be wonderfully entertaining. In the news business, it is often discouraged, depending on the seriousness of the subject matter.
I have two examples of clever writing, one I think worked and one that didn’t.
I’ll start with the poor choice of wording.
The story is about a married woman woman who was arrested for attacking her husband with a knife. The story, reported in the English language version of the Phnom Penh Post in Cambodia, explains that the 27-year-old husband drank to the point of intoxication, became enraged and kicked his wife, 21, who apparently had enough. She stabbed him twice in the stomach, though apparently not fatally.
In home rife with strife, husband knifed by wife
It’s so clever it rhymes. But this is a serious story, and one in which being cute in a headline probably isn’t the greatest idea, even though it appears in a police blotter section, in which unusual stories are often featured. This story, while it may be unusual, is not the kind of lighthearted fare typical of a police blotter-style digest.
The other instance, one I think worked better, was an opening line to a story about Thursday night’s vice presidential debate. Scott Pelley opened the CBS Evening News with this line:
They have 90 minutes to prove that seconds count.
Not “seconds” in terms of time, but seconds in terms of the second-place slot a vice president holds. While the electoral process is certainly serious, this particular story, a preview of a political event that hasn’t yet happened, doesn’t have someone’s life potentially on the line.
Like the domestic violence story’s headline, it’s a quite clever turn of phrase.
But I have always believed that when a violent crime takes place, clever isn’t always the best choice to make.