The Economist

The British paper has its own funny style. This is a very typical headline from the April 8th issue:

Mergers and acquisitions; Once more unto the breach, dear clients, once more

Some are easier to understand:

Peru's election; Taking on big mining

Others leave one wondering:

Bankruptcy; Don't feed the zombies


More headlines

Good Headline: Exploding paperweight costs teacher his hand

The headline that was actually on the home page, but is no longer there, was what attracted me to the story: "Teacher, crushing bug with gun shell, blows up hand." It's very visual and clearly explains what happened.

Not so good headline: Criminal alien exception blocked

This headline didn't really give me a good idea what the story was about. Criminal, alien and exception all together was a lot to try to comprehend at once. "Exception to what?" was a question that sprang to mind. The concept of an exception being blocked was also difficult to comprehend. The use of the word "alien" is somewhat questionable too.

Good and Bad Headlines

Bad Headlines

1. "Bird Flu victims to be buried in plague pits" Life Style Extra (UK), April 2, 2006
First, it's unclear whether "victims" refers to birds or people with the disease. Secondly, it implies that the victims are already dead, whereas the article is actually talking about pits that would be used in case of a mass outbreak.

2. "Storms Bring Wind, Rain to Metro Area" The Oklahoman
I'm pretty sure the people reading the story already know that. It could've been more descriptive.

3. "Tornado saftey a priority in Oklahoma" The Oklahoma Daily, March 31, 2006
...but apparently spelling is not. Readers might let a little typo in an article slide, but it's ten times worse when there's one in a big headline.

Good Headlines

1. "Gaining a Dose of Humility, One Washed Foot at a Time," Washington Post, April 2, 2006
This headline was catchy, with a feature story-ish feel, although it was a news story. It was straight and to the point, and I think it's clear that the story it accompanies is about the religious practice of foot-washing.

2.. "'Basic' Sharon sinks like stone," New York Daily News, April 3, 2006
Although this paper isn't known for its great headlines...or great journalism for that matter, I still thought this was pretty catchy and a nice play on words.

3. "Why Buy Wi-Fi?" Washington Post Sunday Source, April 2, 2006
Again, I thought this was a simple, catchy, creative feature story headline. Even though it's short, it is still clear what the story is about.



Bad: MIT professor hits back at $100 laptop critics
I understand what the article headline is saying: the professor is refutting what critics are saying about distributing laptops for $100 to children around the world. But when I read this headline, the first thing that comes to mind is someone physically hitting someone. I think that "hits" can be replaced by a much better word that does not have a fighting spirit-type meaning around it, like "refutes."

Good: Terps, Duke Ready for 1-2 Punch
I really liked this headline for its creativity on washingtonpost.com's homepage. Unfortunately, a different headline was used when I clicked on the story, so I didn't hyperlink to the story. But I like how it's a play on words, or numbers, really. Obviously, tonight the two teams are battling it out for the title. But it's cool that the headline incorporated their standings with Duke #1 seed and Maryland #2. All of that in a concise, short headline. So I think that this headline really captured the essence of the game: a battle between the top teams. If a reader doesn't really understand the headline, the lead immediately mentioned what each team's rankings were. Read the article here.

headlines are fun?

the good:

France hit by new mass protests

This is the headline that appears on the CNN.com World News Home page. I like it because it is short, and yet communicates that this is another wave of mass protesting. Some other short headlines I saw didn't mention that these protests have happened before, but this one implies it by using "new."

and the bad:

California levees break, threaten homes

I know what they mean, but it's written as if the levees broke, and then they threatened homes. The image conjured up in my mind was a levee breaking, it then shaking a giant, concrete fist in the air, warning homes it's going to beat them up.
Also, in reading the story, some homes were already flooded--notably, in a trailer park. I think the fact that some people have already been flooded out of their homes is more newsworthy than people who might be flooded out. My only guess as to why they didn't include that in the headline was some sort of class difference, translating into who is more important in society. But I'm also cynical. Or maybe they couldn't make a short headline with that info?

wonderful world of headlines

hey all,

i won't be in class on wednesday to defend my headlines, so be easy on me in the discussion!

GOOD > "Iraq Court Charges Hussein with Genocide of Kurds" nytimes.com from 4/4
this headline is exactly what i think a headline should be: short, simple and easily understood. broadcast majors learn the acronym "KISS," or keep it simple, stupid. i think it works well for headline writers, too.

GOOD >"DeLay Decides to End Career in Congress" nytimes.com from 4/4
there is no confusing what the article following this headline is about. it is simple and clear, just as the first headline is. if you reread it a few times the alliteration of the Ds and Cs begins to sound sort of silly, but then again, who really reads writing over and over again anyway for alliteration? haha.

BAD >"No More DeLay: Smarmy even in defeat and disgrace, the exterminator bows out of Congress" salon.com from 4/4
EEK!! This headline is attempting to say what the "DeLay Decides..." headline says, but adds an extra eight words. i wonder if this headline works because salon.com is a more magazine-y site. either way, i think nytimes.com handled it much better. (and i must confess, i had to look up the word "smarmy," which i found out means "ingratiating and wheedling in a way that is percieved as insincere or excessive." i'm hoping i'm not the only one who isnt' familiar with the word, but at the risk of looking stupid, i'm going to say i didn't like salon's word choice because i didn't know what they meant. smarmy...what the heck?!)

see you all next wednesday!

~lauren spates

ps...and as for you, matt ray, i love the charlie and the chocolate factory references...but i, personally, am a big fan of the golden goose egg scene. veruca certainly had it coming, that little brat.

Online Journalism

Online Journalism

One bad headline that I came across was on the Time web site, www.time.com. The headline was Global Warming Heats Up, http://www.time.com/time/health/. Maybe it's just me, but I feel that Global Warming is a process and it's a no brainer that it's going to heat up as indicated in the name Global Warming. I understand that the author was trying to say that the warming is becoming more intense. The article is a good one though, I would maybe change the headline to show the growing intensity or rate of the warming, not to tell people what they already know.

One headline that I liked was on www.msnbc.com. The story was about how the ground is giving way in New Orleans, causing major problems when trying to rebuild the area. The headline reads: "New Orleans is sinking, study says." I like the headline even though it may have been a no brainer for the person creating it. I think people already assume that this story is about flooding and things that we are familiar with when it comes to New Orleans. But the story being about the land actually sinking, or lowering the elevation level of the city makes this a good headline in my opinion. At first glance of the headline a person might think that they have read this story before, but after realizing what the story is about I think many people would be interested in reading more.


How do some people have jobs?

Here's one about female business owners, and it's a two for one special! A bad headline and a worse subhead! We can thank cnn.com for this:

Breaking the $1 million ceiling
Six experts debate what keeps more women entrepreneurs from growing big.

I read "breaking the $1 million ceiling" and I see Charlie, Grandpa Joe and Willy Wonka flying through the roof in the Wonkavator at the end of that splendid movie (RIP Gene Wilder). What a scene! Very touching...I've always admired the fact that the movie has that heartbreaking and frightening scene where everything is cut in half (including, you'll notice, the magnifying glass that Willy Wonka uses to show the fine print in the contract - "I said, GOOD DAY, SIR!") immediately followed by the tearjerking Wonkavator scene in which Joe tells Charlie "I can see our house!" and Willy - that Peter Pan of chocolate - hands over the proverbial keys to the factory. And that beggar told Charlie early in the movie that "Nobody ever goes in...nobody ever comes out." Obviously the beggar didn't get a golden ticket. And on side note, since I've already revealed so much about myself so far, the scene in which Augustus falls into the chocolate river is really freaky. It used to bug me out. I guess it still does! But was that worse than when Veruca fell in with the geese eggs? She was a rotten one.

The subhead is great. I'm guessing what keeps the women from growing big is something like a healthy diet and exercising often. Genetics, maybe?

From the Associated Press:

New Navy ship being built with WTC steel _ and it survived Hurricane Katrina

If it's being built...how did it survive something?