Heds - Word order does matter
Here was a recent headline from a local paper:
OK, a first impressions quick quiz. Did you think this was a story about state employees being laid off?
I'm betting a good percentage of you did.
We're culturally hard-wired to take certain combinations and make assumptions. In the U.S., state often stands for state government, and pairing it with "layoffs" reinforces that.
But this story was about private-sector layoffs in the state -- and that little preposition is the key. Sometimes you can't ditch it and keep the same meaning.
So try this:
Now, the meaning is far clearer.