Bad headline:

Judge Who Lost Pant Suit Loses Job


Good Headline:

Halloween's Traffic Nightmare


This headline was on the main page of Washington Post.com, not on the actual story page. It was the link.

Good & Bad Headlines

"American held in Italy sex-murder case"

This was the headline for an MSNBC story about an American woman who is being held as a suspect in Italy after her roommate was found dead. Police believe that the girl was killed fighting off a sexual assault.

I'm not sure about you, but I've never heard of "sex-murder" before. This headline would have been better using just murder or suspected rape/sexual assault.

"It's aliiiiive! Campaign beast awakens in Iowa"

This headline is great for the story. So far, most of the presidential race has been calm, but after the Iowa caucus, the real campaign seems to have finally begun. The headline is punchy without being obnoxious, and gets the point across with two simple words: it's alive! Brilliant.

Good and Bad Headlines

My headlines come from washingtonpost.com.
The good comes from a story with the headline, "Gist and Milbourne suspended for opener" (Nov. 7, 2007). This is a good healine because it invokes intrigue in any sports fan to find out why these players were suspended. Suspended is a good eye-catching word because it implies that something was don wrong that caused these players to be suspended.
The bad is from the story with the headline, "Wizards rest Arenas". To anyone who is not familiar with the NBA and specifically the Washington Wizards, this could be misinterpreted as the organization is resting its basketball court. It could be made clearer by putting the word guard in front of Arenas, since that is his position on the team.

Good/Bad Headlines

Hollywood Strike Turns Punch Lines to Picket Lines
Washingtonpost.com, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/05/AR2007110500138.html

I really like this headline because it is witty and catches your attention. I was wondering why there hasn’t been much hullabaloo surrounding the Writers Guild Strike, and this headline perfectly sums up what has been happening in a few, simple words. If I saw this headline on a website, I would definitely click on it to read more about it.

On main page: Child porn cops arrest Children’s Museum exec
When you click on the story: Children’s Museum employee distributed child porn, officials say
CNN.com, http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/11/06/childrensmuseum.arrest/index.html

I was so confused when I first read, “Child porn cops arrest Children’s Museum exec,” on CNN’s homepage. It was the first story listed on the homepage and it really caught my eye, because it puzzled me that they decided to call the police, “child porn cops.” Huh? The other headline makes much more sense and gives a much clearer picture as to exactly what the situation is regarding the museum executive who is suspected of distributing porn.

Good Headline/Bad Headline

I managed to find a headline that is good and bad all at once:

Police: Man tortured with freshly baked cookies

The good is pretty obvious here: How could you not want to find out more about a man being tortured with freshly baked cookies? I'm not endorsing torture (not even torture with freshly baked cookies), but you have to admit, when you see that headline, you're clicking on it to find out how, exactly, one tortures someone with freshly baked cookies and the circumstances behind the story.

This is where we get into the bad: the story isn't quite as fun as the involvement of freshly baked cookies would lead you to believe. It turns out the cookie torture was the result of a drug deal gone bad, and wasn't the only torture inflicted, although the victim's injuries weren't bad enough to require hospital visit. I guess my issue here is really more with the story failing to live up to the headline than with the headline itself. Now that I think about it, this is actually an example of how a great headline can take one aspect of an otherwise mundane story and make it attractive to readers.


headline exercise

Good Headline:
This article on Salon.com immediately grabbed my attention:
"A vote for Romney is a vote for Satan"
My first reaction is WHAT???!!! My next reaction is, well, there are quotes there, so somebody SAID that. Then I want to know WHO would be quoted saying something like that?
The quote is simple, to the point, and makes me want to continue reading. It does a perfect job of drawing me into the story without ruining the article. Using quotes as the entire headline seems to be pretty rare, but in this case it’s incredibly effective.
The article is here:

Bad Headline:
Some of the sports headlines are incredibly cheesy.
Haywood Shines Bright Despite Wizards' Woes
“Wizards’ Woes” just strikes me as ridiculous-sounding; it’s such a contrived alliteration it makes me shudder.
Another alliteration I was not a fan of: Rookie Runs to Record: Minnesota 35, San Diego 17. Yes, you’re clever, congratulations, don’t smack us over the head with it.




Bad headline:
"GW student charged in swastika on dorm door"

This is a bad headline from The Washington Times for a couple different reasons. First of all, it doesn't make any sense. "Charged in swastika on dorm door?" Huh? It should say something like charged for not in or something to that nature. It is confusing and even when I read it over more than one time, it still does not make much sense to me.

Secondly, the student was also charged with several other racial incidents. So maybe the paper was just trying to get more clicks/readers with a controversial word in there.

Good headline:
College coaches left to cope with stars' fast break to NBA

I liked this headline from the Baltimore Sun because it is a nice little play on a basketball term 'fast break.' The story is about how superstar college basektball players come to a university and only stay for a year and jolt to the NBA for money and more stardom.

The headline gets the point across, is informative and has a nice play on words.


Online News Headlines

Looking on AOL News, I found this headline, "Drunk Driver Sues Police for Car Crash." The story is about an Arizona woman who crashed her car into a wall and though the police took her keys, she used a hidden key to drive off. She is suing police for not taking her hidden key from her. I think the word "for" makes the headline confusing. The "for" implies that she wants a car crash from the police. The headline would have been clearer if it said, "Drunk Driver Sues Police Over Car Crash."

Another unclear headline I found was on today's Washington Post home page. It was found under the More Local Headlines heading and read, "Protest Styles Present a Clash of Cultures" Upon reading this headline, I really wasn't sure what the article would be about. My first instinct was that the story was a Style section-esque feature on the different ways people protest. I clicked on it and learned the story was actually about the immigration debate in Virginia's Prince William County. This really surprised me because I've actually been following this issue for another class, and I would never have known this is what the article was about just from reading the headline. In order to tip off readers and be easier to find in a search engine, the headline should have included key words like "immigration" or "Pr. William County"

One of the better headlines I found was in AOL's Entertainment News section on this weekend's box office hits. The headline, "'American Gangster' Swats 'Bee Movie,'" creatively conveys which of this weekend's highly anticipated movie releases came out on top. The colorful writing continued into the lead, which read, "LOS ANGELES (Nov. 4) - A heroin pusher and a honey bee put some sting back into the movie business." I will concede that the headline may not have worked if a reader didn't know what the two movies were, but in that case they probably wouldn't have been interested in the article anyways.

I also really liked this headline for the lead story on the Washington Post's homepage. It's a video link titled, "VIDEO: In W. Va., Celebrating the Fall of Man" The package is on BASE jumping and accompanies a double page spread on the topic in today's print edition. I like the play on words with the literal falling of people that BASE jumping entails. However, because the headline is accompanied with a photo and a three-line summary, it still works.

~Priya Kumar