Friday, February 13, 2009

Headline news

And your winner for the headline of the week (I was going to say day, but it's the best I've seen this week, easily) comes from the Globe and Mail for this story. The headline?

Too early to get excited about premature ejaculation drug

Yeah, that's good. People don't appreciate a good headline nearly enough. Most reporters I know hate writing them. Try summing up your 800 word masterpiece in five words or so (the above headline is actually quite wordy, but worth it) that's catchy, explains your story and will make people want to read it. You'd be surprised how many journalists can't do it. And far too many just fall back on puns when in a jam. My two former editors - and one of them means the world to me - were terrible for puns.

Some newspapers have professional headline writers although I suspect in these hard times for the print media, they're among the first to go, along with political cartoonists.

Anyway, I'm just savoring a well crafted headline.

Oh, and while I'm poking around at the Globe, this story caught my interest, about why Facebook's "25 Random Things about me" meme. I confess to being baffled why it's become so popular. Meme's on Facebook and the rest of the Internet are a dime a dozen, but this one has taken off to the point that mainstream media have noticed and are trying to figure it out.

I received probably a dozen "tags" to do this meme. I even completed a list, but rather than doing something completely random, I tried to tie it together in a rambling sort of way, where each "fact" would tie either directly or somewhat indirectly into the next one. But I never liked it, didn't think it was particularly clever or funny, so I didn't do anything with it. And the tsunami of tags seems to have passed, so I'm content to be one of the few on Facebook to have not taken part in this.

I suspect it also depends on what you use Facebook for. There's a sizable difference between what my 16-year-old cousin in Heart's Desire uses it for (mostly to explain how much she hates being in school, making funny comments on friends' pictures and doing quizzes) and what I use it for. Which is to see how my friends are doing and leave the occasional comment on their status updates. I don't think I've even changed my picture there in about five months, which is 30 years in Facebook time. Uploading photos to Facebook from here is a slow and cumbersome process. I don't read any of the groups I've joined and pretty much given up playing the games available.

I like Facebook. I think it's useful and all. But I'm clearly not the target audience. Nor do I have the time or inclination to play with it as much as others do. Once, that might have bothered me a bit...a social network site that I'm ambivalent towards. These days, well, not quite so much.

Last Five
1. Hard road - Sam Roberts
2. Champions of nothing - Matthew Good*
3. Diamonds in the mine (live) - Lindsay Barr
4. Cod liver oil - Great Big Sea
5. 16 shells from a 30-06 - Tom Waits


Anonymous said...

I think that meme has taken off simply because people love writing things about themselves.

That IS a great headline! I think one of the worst I've ever seen - which was in one of our papers - was "People like pancakes." SRSLY.

Karin said...

I never did the 25 things either. I have read several hilarious lists and quite a few unfortunate mini dramas.

Outstanding headline.

WJM said...

Real headline from the Ottawa Citizen, many years ago:

Anti-circumcision movement comes to a head

Next to this story was one about a rancher in Nevada named Dick Carver.

Adam Snider said...

I love well written headlines. It's definitely an art that most people don't appreciate.

Back during my brief stint as an opinion columnist for my university paper, I hated coming up with headlines, so I generally let me editors write them for me, and when they turned out something brilliant, I made a point of telling them how much I loved the headline. I mean, a good headline gets people to read the article, so if my editor can make people read my column by writing a good headline, I owe him or her big time.