"[N]othing prejudices the way a reader comes to a piece more than its headline. Nothing is more likely to make him or her believe, even after reading the article through, that the author has said something he has not said and perhaps would never want people to imagine he has said."
The great menace in headlines in 2011 was that either every headline was "11 Ways to X" or that it was "Y Happens to Z [SLIDESHOW]." You know, whatever our pals at Business Insider and Huffington Post's Celebrity Sideboob's page were doing. Well, guess what, we all got used to it, and now it barely registers as tacky or grabby, except when it's over the top. Sure: promise me 11 things, I will at least read three of them. Fair's fair.
The menace before that was the "How" headline, which is so hard to avoid. "How X Became Y." "How Apple Something Something'd." "How Your Mom Became Your Dad." That [...]
Good morning! "PANDA fans are kicking up a stink — because they're being bombarded by PENGUIN POO. Visitors queuing to see star attractions Sweetie and Sunshine at Edinburgh Zoo are being pelted by the smelly droppings…. A 41-year-old visitor told us: 'We were queuing to see the pandas when a man in front shouted — he'd been hit by a big dollop of poo. It was disgusting.'"
Gawker Media honcho Nick Denton issued an edict this morning: headlines for his sites running on his Kinja system will now be auto-truncated to 70 characters. He's doing this to appease Google and Facebook. Apparently, the company couldn't identify a technical solution yet to issue different headlines to different venues. Most publishers send out different headlines to Facebook, Twitter, their sites and for Google. (For instance, there's a couple free WordPress plugins that do this, just FYI.) The sites will also shorten summaries on sites, like here, to convey more information.
Let's see how today's Gawker headlines stack up at 70 characters!
• ‘Religious Freedom’-Fighting NC Lawmaker Opposes [...]
Okay, there's probably not gonna be a more evocative headline than this today: "Love-rat dad of nine children to eight women who headbutted ex-girlfriend in row over cheese toastie jailed for just 20 days"
Remember Beattie's Law: "If there’s a question mark in the headline the answer is either (tabloid) 'no' or (broadsheet) 'who cares?'"
New York runs a story today by Awl pal Doree Shafrir about the "new generation of tech entrepreneurs in the city" who are "trying to overthrow old media and build a better New York." Naturally the piece is headlined "Tweet Tweet Bang Bang," a reference to the San Francisco-based Twitter. This is probably because most journalists only know two emerging tech companies, and "Foursquare" makes for lousy punning. Not satisfied with taking just one Twitter headline off the table, New York doubles up, referring to the story on the cover as "Life Is Tweet." As a service to those of our friends in the media who are desperate [...]
"The headline is finding relevance far beyond news media as it becomes a key weapon in fields like politics and business. No longer the exclusive province of copy editors, it is now the cornerstone of emailed political appeals, the fulcrum of crowdsourcing capital on Kickstarter, and arguably the basis of an entire communications medium, the all-headlines microblogging system Twitter…. New York-based Upworthy is part of a gamble by founders from Facebook, Reddit, and BuzzFeed that headlines can advance political change and profits at the same time. The aggregator, whose seed round closed this past October, makes editors write at least 25 different headlines for each post, then plugs top [...]
The National Conference of the American Copy Editors Society has announced its headline contest winners and it is now clear who is destroying the media. Among the many talented, hard-working winners—and you know we love our copy editors!—we find a batch of puns so foul, so egregious, that it's difficult to not feel pranked.
First place for individuals at newspapers with circulation under 80,001 goes to a staffer at the Wichita Eagle, whose winning entries include this… one.
Tom Cruise perfected the practice back in 2006 when he suddenly fell in love and got married just as his film, Mission Impossible 3, about a spy who falls in love and gets married, hit screens. Now, Russian spies are captured and deported just weeks before the release of Aneglina Jolie's film Salt, about a Russian spy. Meanwhile, Mel Gibson goes off the rails just a month or so before the release of his film, The Beaver, about a guy going off the rails.
It's the new movie promotion paradigm, viral marketing by way of connecting a film's plot with out of the blue, completely unexpected real-world events. So [...]
Tom Scocca: Here is a headline from Sunday's Washington Post: Tom Scocca: In art we lust Tom Scocca: "At second blush, classic works are allowed to rise to their full erotic potential." Tom Scocca: The Post is plagued by bad, amateurish, would-be-snappy headlines these days, and this one epitomizes the problem. Tom Scocca: If you have to change two parts of a stock phrase to make your headline, you are making a dumb and clunky headline. Tom Scocca: "In God We Trust" has nothing to do with the permeability of the barrier between "nude" and "naked" (aka "art" and "pornography"). Tom Scocca: So it's "In [WHOLLY UNRELATED WORD] we [...]