Saturday, May 12, 2007

Headline news

Most journalists I know hate writing headlines. It's one of those things that you figure ought to be relatively easy, but isn't. Trying to come up with a few words on top of your story that's not cliche, that hasn't been done to death, but is catchy enough to hook people into wanting to read you story is hard.

The subject matter of your story and the quality of the story isn't what gets most people reading. It's actually whether or not the headline catches their eye and if the photo that goes with the story looks interesting.

(Greg Locke obviously already knows this, but a great photo can make the difference if a person is going to stop and read your story, or skim past it and move on to something else.)

Some journalists leave it to editors to come up with the headline. I believe some of the tabloids in the US actually hire professional headline writers. It's a knack and an under appreciated one.

So that's why when I saw the headline for this story, I had to read the story. And actually, after reading the story I went back and reread the headline again and laughed even harder. That's pure brilliance, my friends. Whoever wrote that headline should get a prize.

And just on the off-chance the story disappears shortly, here are the first few paragraphs:

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- They came from all over the world, poles in hand, and feet ready to inch more than half a mile across a high wire strung over the Han River in a spine-tingling battle of balance, speed and high anxiety.

As part of its annual city festival, the South Korean capital staged Thursday what was billed as the world's first high-wire championship, drawing 18 contestants from nine countries for three days of supreme feats of concentration.

And here is the headline: Skywalkers in Korea Cross Han Solo

(Thanks to Augie for the link.)


steverobbo said...

Made me laugh out loud. You're not the only one who hates writing headlines, trying to think of one for a daily blog is bad enough.

Greg Locke said...

My God! ...That is brilliant!

I think all the journalism awards should have a catagory for headlines.

...and you are right (or write) about "professional" headline writers. When I was working at the Toronto Sun WAAAAY back in the '80's I remember seeing a job posting on the board for "Headline Writers" for the National Inquirer.

...and thanks


dups said...

My god. Whoever that is needs to be given an award.

Way Way Up said...

Sheer genius!