Headline Analysis

Good: In Baghdad, a Sudden Chance to Play

Not only is this headline clear and concise, but it also generates curiosity. The headline suggests that people in Baghdad actually found time to relax and have fun. How could this happen in a place where people are afraid to leave their homes? Readers want to know the answer, so they read the article. The story explains how the end of Ramadan brought several quiet days to the violent city. The headline indicates that the story will be about Baghdad’s recent decline in violence, and the article delivers.

Not-so-good: Transgender MP in toilet fracas

This headline makes you say “Huh?” While the headline is concise, it’s not clear enough to accurately describe the story. What is a toilet fight? The story describes the controversy in Italy over which restroom a transgender named Vladimir Luxuria should use. This headline also tries to lure the reader through curiosity, but it’s not as clearly written as the Baghdad headline.


Spring 2007 new-media courses

Friends, in case any of you are interested in taking additional new-media courses in the spring session, here's a link to info on courses attached to the online bureau semester (working for Maryland Newsline):


good and not so good headlines

"Germany orders troops skull probe"
-The story is about Germany ordering an investigation into photos that show soldiers desecrating a skull in Afghanistan. But the wording is awkward. Try reading it out loud. The headline is confusing...the skull of one of the troops? The troops' skull? They have a skull? What? The headline pops, but the wording could have been a little better to avoid complete confusion. Drawing the reader in is one thing, but confusion is just frustrating.

"N.J. Ruling Mandates Rights for Gay Unions"
-Clear, to the point. The reader can easily understand that N.J. has made a ruling that's a victory for homosexuals. Let's read more for the details.


Bad Headline: DNA Testing A Mixed Bag For Immigrants (The Washington Post - 10/25/06)

This hed is confusing because it mixes a commonly serious issue - immigration - with a strange non sequitor - mixed bag. When you read the story, you understand how immigrants are using DNA testing to prove family ties but if the hed doesnt get you into the story what good is it.

Good Headline:
For SpongeBob, 3-year-old sacrifices freedom (at least temporarily) (USA Today - 10/25/06)

Somehow this hed works with the same methods that caused the immigration hed to fail. There is a sense of danger in this hed and combined with the Spongebob part, this draws you in to find out what happened.

good and bad headlines

Good Headline: Study Finds Flu Shots are Safe for Kids (Washington Post 10.25.06)

I think this headline is good because even without reading the article you get a little piece of news. You can glance at it, for example and learn that it’s fine to give your child a flu shot. It’s concise and clear and practical.

Bad Headline: Chewing Food With Her Legs (USA Today 10.24.06)

This is for an article about how crabs chew their food with their legs but it sounds really strange on first glance and they could have made it more clear to the reader.

Headline Comparisons

Class, please find a good and not-so-adept headline on one or more news Web sites, and explain why you think so here. Please be sure to give the full URL and headline for each. Please don't write anything you don't want the world to see.

A "not-so-adept" headline

Here's one I found on MSNBC.com's homepage: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/
"Whites pursued Katrina settlements more than blacks"

...Once the link is clicked, however, it's more appropriate:
"Whites challenged Katrina settlements more: Minorities, poor didn't know about resources available to help settle claims"

The first headline made it seem like black people just didn't care enough to pursue them. The second headline gives a better explanation.