4.15.2009

Good and bad Web headlines

Please find a good and not-so-adept headline on one or more news Web sites, and explain why you think so (in a few sentences) on our blog. 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. Write your entries as comments to this blog thread. Thanks! Due at the start of class next week.

11 comments:

Andrew Smith said...

Preventing Violence Against Women is a headline from WUSA9's website.

I feel this headline could be better because it does not follow the general rules we went over in class.

1) It doesn't follow the subject-verb-object word order. The user must now ask, "what is 'preventing violence against women?'"

2) This word order leads to a generic statement. This statement niether matches nor clashes with the mood of the story. The headline seems like a statement and doesn't hint to the tone of story (besides the somber subject matter).

3) Because the headline is generic, the user does not know anything specific about this story. This can also be a problem when it comes to trying to search for the story. A search engine would pull up lots of other websites and articles if you searched for "preventing violence against women." I think the headline should have been more specific to help its search engine compatibility.

Andrew Smith said...

Columbian Drug Boss Captured is a headline on The Washington Post's website.

I like this headline because it's short, sweet and to the point.

The headline is just a subject and verb (but in the right order) and does not add or detract from the tone of the story.

But the headline says just what it needs to for the viewer to be interested. They know the general information and can read to get all the details.

There are also good choices of words that can help search engines find the article. It is specific enough for the story.

Lauren Cohen said...

I think a good example of a Web headline is "Lakers cruise to series-opening win over Utah," on the NBC Sports site: http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/30295848/

The most striking thing about this headline is the use of the verb "cruise." It gets the reader's attention. The headline writer could have gone with a less interesting verb, but he or she chose something more snappy. The headline also sums up the main point of the story and doesn't mislead the reader.

One headline that I think could be improved is "Madonna Falls From Horse," found on CNN's Web site: http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/04/19/madonna.horse/index.html

This headline certainly could have contained more information, such as whether or not she was hurt or why this occurred. I found the headline to be too basic.

Perhaps readers will want to continue with the story simply because it has to do with Madonna, but a little more information in the headline would have been good to include in order to entice more readers.

Lacey Cohen said...

http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/20/poll-cuban-americans-favor-obamas-shift-in-policy/
Headline: Poll: Cuban-Americans Favor Obama’s Shift in Policy
This is a good headline because it is clear and to the point. After reading this headline, one would have a good understanding of what the article is about without having to read much further unless interested in doing so.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/19/realestate/19livi.html?8dpc
Headline: A Lot to Soak Up, Even Outside the Bars
I’m not particularly fond of this headline because I’m left confused, wondering what the author is talking about. It doesn’t provide readers with a good sense of what the article is about until you realize the author is talking about living in Murray Hill. It’s only then, that you can piece together that Murray Hill has a lot to soak up, even outside the bars.

Brittany Fertig said...


Mikulski girds for run for fifth Senate term
An important rule of writing good headlines is to keep it simple and using a word such as "girds" that is unfamiliar to an average reader of the Baltimore Sun goes completely against that concept.

Perhaps, simply using the word "prepares" would have been more appropriate and less confusing to the reader. Does anyone else have any other word suggestions that could have been used in place of girds?


Texas cities dominate Forbes list of best places for jobs
I think this headline is successful because the reader knows exactly what the story is going to be about. It summarizes and tells about the article and indicates the relative importance of the story in these difficult economic times.

Nancy said...
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Nancy said...

Move Over, Miley. In Washington, The Obama Girls Are the Latest Craze.This headline is successful, because it fits the light and fun tone of the story. It references pop culture sensation Miley Cyrus that most, if not all, tween parents are aware of. Also it does well with search engine optimization keywords such as Washington and Obama girls.

As Wild Horses Breed, a Voice for Contraception

This headline is vague. The title of the story page is better but lengthier: “To Curb Wild Horses, a Voice for a Contraceptive Called P.Z.P.” The name of the contraceptive is not required, since most of the readership does not what it is, but the fact that the population needs to curbed and that contraceptives are a more humane alternative should be noted. A geographic keyword such as South Dakota could be used to maximize search engine optimization.

Kelly Brooks said...
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Kelly Brooks said...

The Good:
What Are Friends For? A Longer Life on The New York Times' Web site
I like this headline because it takes an adage and, without using the words "study shows," tells the audience there are medical benefits to having friends. I don't think news headlines always have to be totally literal. This is a good example of being playful and informative.

The Not-So-Adept:
The Grand Cornice-and-Pediment Tour on The New York Times' Web site
This headline is obscure. The architectural terms will isolate a lot of people. I like the idea of a quirky headline for this offbeat story, but I think this overdoes it.
Iran like Nazi Germany, Israeli official says on CNN.com
After a cursory glance I thought this headline read "Iran likes Nazi Germany." This was my own misinterpretation, but I think the words/phrasing could have been more clear.

Nadine said...

Good: Craigslist CEO feels 'terribly' about Craigslist killer
http://www.boston.com/business/ticker/2009/04/craigslist_ceo.html
I like this headlines because a lot of people use Craigslist to find all sorts of things, it makes me want to know whether I should be afraid to use Craigslist if it's about an actual safety threat or if it's just using a stronger word to emphasize a story. Also, since Craigslist is so popular, it's a good search term.

Bad: One billion expected to celebrate Earth Day
http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/04/22/earth.day2009/

It's vague. Lots of people celebrate lots of federal holidays. I care about Earth Day, I don't know what numbers normally are or how they're getting them. I'd rather see the title say something about how people are celebrating the holiday in a way that's unique or interesting. Lots of kindergartners plant trees in the playground, is that what I'm going to read about here? It's also about something that will happen; the article would be more interesting after the fact when there are pictures. However, the article does have some great photos despite this. Therefore, they should take advantage of them and use one of them to draw the headline from.

MikeJaffe said...

Bad headline: "Man killed in fatal accident on Caves Road in Baltimore Co."

Right off the bat, this headline is annoying to read because it is redundant. If someone is killed in an accident it is fatal, or the other way around, if it were fatal, I believe I can figure out for myself that the person was killed. Also, this headline does not convey what type of an accident it is. Was it a car wreck, was it a construction accident? It is also a little too vague for the Internet in that the only real good search terms are Baltimore Co. and Caves road, but really, for people who don't know the area, it doesn't help with locating the site of the accident (north, south, east or west, what part of Baltimore Co.?).

URL: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/baltimore_county/bal-fatal0415,0,4080835.story

Good Headline: "Another U.S. Cargo Ship Escapes Somali Pirate Attack"

I thought this was a good headline because even though it is long, the words flow well and tell what is happening. We find out it is not the first time pirates attacked a U.S. ship, but we find out what happens. The search terms are perfect, especially because of the timing. This happened days after freeing a captain from pirates, so anybody searching for information on that could find this article based on the key words of "Somali," "pirates," "cargo ship," and "escape." This headline also follows the format we were using, again, making it easy to read.

URL: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/14/AR2009041400194.html