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Writing headlines, AM class

If you’re in the morning class, your comments go here.

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  1. Jordan Minnick
    March 9, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    In a compilation book of articles from Rolling Stone magazine, there is a story from issue 416, published March 1, 1984: “The Strange and Mysterious Death of Mrs. Jerry Lee Lewis.” It is a longer headline, but it leaves you wondering. I just had to read the story. You know that this woman didn’t die of natural causes or by any means in a normal way. With this in mind, the reader then makes their way to reading the very intriguing line directly below: “‘You scared of me?’ Lewis once asked his wife’s sister. ‘You should be. Why do you think they call me the Killer?’” I almost think the headline wouldn’t have been as appealing without this as a subdeck because it flatters the headline so incredibly well. It’s a direct quote and such a great play on words for Jerry Lee Lewis, also known as the Killer.

  2. Emily Giller
    March 9, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    I found a story on The New York Times’ website on Tuesday March 9 that had a very interesting headline. The headline said, “Vatican on Defense as Sex Scandals build.” This caught my attention right away mainly because I normally don’t associate the Vatican with sex scandals. When reading this headline I immediately wanted to read the story and find out more about what happened. I thought the headline did a really good job of explaining what the story was about. Also, by having the words “Vatican” and “sex scandals” in the headline it appeals more to the reader because they are words that aren’t ever put together.


  3. Tom Grant
    March 9, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    When I look through the newspaper every morning, I always go through the front page and sports section. Sports wise, I will read almost any article as long as the sport or team involved interests me but the front page is quite a bit different. When I look at the front page I always look for the hard news or the headlines that catch my attention. Especially after doing our recent midterm project it was very clear how important headlines were in making me want to read a story I normally wouldn’t give the time of day. While I specifically mentioned the front page as the main section where I think headlines are crucial, I found a headline in the Chicago Tribune’s sports section that I thought was very interesting. The headline was printed on March 7th and read “Quenneville flips, Howard flops and the Red Wings roll.” The headline was for the Chicago Blackhawks game the previous night and really used a creative vocabulary in creating a line that rolled off my tongue. The entire story from the game was hinted at in the headline but still made me want to read it so I could see what exactly happened. Quenneville is a reference to the Blackhawks head coach who was “flipped” because of a call. Howard was the Detroit Red Wings goaltender who some said took a dive to draw a penalty, thus the “flop.” Lastly, the headline reads that the Red Wings “rolled” en route to victory. I liked it simply because of how when I read it out loud it just sounded very smooth and as I previously mentioned, it hinted at what happened but didn’t give it all away. When reading the headline aloud it just grabbed my interest by the flow of it and the additional information that was given essentially forced me to read it. The Tribune didn’t need to have some play on words or anything to grab my attention, they just had to get my attention and that is what they did with this unique headline.

    Link: http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/blackhawks-confidential/2010/03/quenneville-flips-howard-flops-and-the-red-wings-roll.html

  4. Max Olson
    March 10, 2010 at 12:36 am

    I was looking around on the Today’s Front Pages section of the Newseum Web site when I found this one from Tuesday’s Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier. It ran above the fold right below the masthead:

    ‘Why would anyone … want to hurt Angie?’

    It’s undoubtedly a risky headline and one you don’t usually see on the top story of the news section, but I actually liked it a little. The paper easily could have just gone with a “Woman’s death ruled homicide” and nobody would’ve said anything, but this was really creative and caught my eye. You’d normally see this line in a pulled quote, so the fact that it’s above the story and in bold makes a reader stop and read the beginning of the story. Older readers might not appreciate this unorthodox headline, but I think the risk paid off.

    Link: http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/pop_up.asp?fpVname=VA_BHC&ref_pge=map&tfp_map=USA
    (note: it might not show Tuesday’s paper when you click this link)

  5. Rhiannon
    March 10, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Headlines aren’t really what I look at when I’m reading a newspaper. I follow a handful of columnists and whatnot closely, but I usually don’t read the headline. I dive right in and read.

    After this week’s class, I have been paying a lot more attention to headlines. I almost feel like a 5-year-old on a sugar rush when I open the newspaper. “Oh! That looks interesting!” “That looks cool! Wonder what that story is all about.”

    This Huffington Post headline really caught my eye. It’s a wacky headline and I quite like it, even if I didn’t really care for the story. “Dan Barber: How I Fell in Love With a Fish.” It made me scratch my head and go “What? I have to read this!” The news story is about a chef, who is very influential and likes cooking fish.


  6. Kelly Morris
    March 10, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    I was looking through my old Rolling Stone issues and I found a really interesting headline in the Nov. 12, 2009 edition: ‘Beats, Rhymes and Ecstasy: Introducing Raptronica.” I really liked this headline because it definitely got my attention. At first I was wondering what beats, rhymes and ecstasy could all have in common. Then I saw the word ‘Raptronica’, which also caught my attention because, of course, I wanted to find out what this word meant. This headline matched the story because the story went on to explain the meaning of this new music style (a mix of rap and electronic beats) as well as how it came to be. I thought it worked because it was informative as to what the story would entail, yet made you wonder what it could possibly mean.

  7. Seanica
    March 10, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    Tell me where and when it was published. Tell me why you you liked it and why you think it worked.

    “Corps Principles: PNB’s Leah O’Connor on her first year dancing in the Corps de Ballet.”
    I found this headline in the October 2009 edition of DanceSpirit magazine. This headline caught my attention not just because I’m a dancer and love ballet, but because it’s a play on words. I think it is, at least. Everyone has their core values and morals. In ballet, there are still certain things that need to be done correctly and that ballerinas value. Once a person has been in a ballet company, they might get promoted from being a member of the Corps to being a Principal dancer. I think this headline definitely worked for an article in DanceSpirit because the people reading it know what it’s talking about and how exactly the writer formed it to be a play on words. I thought it was very well-written as a clever and catchy headline.

  8. Ryan Evans
    March 10, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    A March 10 headline from the Omaha World Herald, “No crime for an occasional cookie” (http://omaha.com/article/20100310/NEWS01/703109907/1009#no-crime-for-an-occasional-cookie) caught my eye because of the way it combined the word “crime” with the light-hearted “cookie.” The story was about the Cass County Sheriff’s office purchasing $1500 worth of Girl Scout cookie to sell to inmates in the commissary of the county jail.
    I liked the headline because it stood out from the other news stories on the Web site where I viewed it. While I could tell what most of the others were about right off the bat, this headline made me want to read its story and find out what story it told.
    The headline jumped out at me because it was out of the ordinary and worked to convey the feel-good nature of the story. It avoided clichés and made sense after reading the story. The headline writer could have easily gone with something less creative such as, “Sheriff purchases $1500 in Girl Scout cookies.” Reaching for something more creative that is still descriptive helps to pique the interest of the average reader scanning the headlines for something interesting to read.

  9. Kristin Bauer
    March 10, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    On March 10, 2010, The New York Times posted an article on their website titled “In Archive and Exhibit, the Dead Live On.” This headline caught my eye and made me want to read more. It is difficult to predict what the story is about by only reading the headline. I initially thought it would feature zombies or ghosts. After looking at the picture and reading the lead, it is clear that this story is about the band “The Grateful Dead.”

    This headline is effective for many reasons. It is creative and fun, yet it actively describes what is going on. The article is about new exhibits that are opening in New York and California focus on the band’s career. The headline includes a clever pun that catches a reader’s interest. It also fulfills many of the components that are mentioned in the checklist that was provided in the post above. For example, it conveys the sense of the story, it has an appropriate tone to fit the story, and it avoids libel, elements of bad taste and obstacles to clarity.

    This headline reminds me of a movie title that you don’t fully understand until you are finished watching. I think it is original, mysterious and interesting without being cliché or trite.

    The story is written by Larry Rohter and can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/11/arts/music/11grateful.html?hp

  10. Sarah Morris
    March 11, 2010 at 12:09 am

    In the New York Times, I came across a headline that read, “Lights, Sirens and a Dash Wired With Destruction.” I liked this headline because it is catchy and draws attention to the story. It also reminds me of the phrase, lights, camera, action. In addition to the allusions it also has alliteration which is very catchy as well.

  11. Damien Croghan
    March 11, 2010 at 12:20 am

    While browsing through articles on The New York Time’s website, I came across an interesting headline that caught my attention: “He’ll scratch your itch.”

    It confused and intrigued me. I read the story, which is about a puggle puppy that sniffs out pests in buildings for a fee. It wasn’t a great article, but it proved a point: headlines make a crucial impact on my reading choices.

    I, and many others, go through newspapers specifically looking for decent headlines. To me, if a headline sound interesting, that means the story must be. The headline is derived from the story, so if one is good, the other is by proxy. This obviously isn’t true, but it’s still something I follow when reading the daily papers.

    If headlines make such a huge impact on reading selectivity, then they are a deciding factor in what news an audience receives. Headlines can make or break the domino effect when it comes to knowledge of newsworthy occasions. When you fail at writing headlines, you fail at delivering a story to the masses.

  12. Dan Hoppen
    March 11, 2010 at 1:22 am

    The front headline on espn.com Thursday morning was “April Powers.” The story was about two ESPN analysts’ predictions on how April’s NFL Draft would unfold. Two of the players expected to be picked early are defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh (Nebraska) and Gerald McCoy (Oklahoma). Defensive tackle is a position that requires a good deal of strength, so that’s where the power in the pun came from. Obviously, the headline is a pun on the common phrase “April Showers.”

    I liked this headline because it’s incredibly simple, yet catchy and memorable. Everyone is familiar with the phrase “April Showers”, so this headline is easily understandable for everyone. The headline is quick, simple and to the point. It leaves no doubt what the article is about. It also made me want to read on: which of the “April powers” is expected to be taken first in the draft? I thought this headline was very effective.

  13. Will Latta
    March 11, 2010 at 2:00 am

    ***I think I accidentally posted this somewhere else too! So disregard it if you happen upon it.***
    I went to one of my hometown newspapers; The Calgary Sun, for this assignment. The headline I found reads: “Alleged Killer Though Victim Was His Mom”
    I can’t speak on behalf of everyone, but I was certainly intrigued.
    This Headline was found on the home web page for the Calgary Sun at http://www.calgarysun.com/. I came across it specifically at 1:42 a.m. Thursday, March 11, 2010.
    This Headline works because it invokes an uneasy feeling of curiosity. We can’t deny that murder stories interest most of us, and when the headline points to interesting twists such as this most of us will be hooked. The idea that somebody would seek justification by claiming they thought their victim was their mother just pulls at our feelings of unease and interest in such an intriguing way. I for one, needed to know more!

  14. Jackie Wiruth
    March 11, 2010 at 8:06 am

    The story headline that first caught my eye, was the one featured on yahoo’s homepage. It read, “Global fight over exit sign.” When you go to the part of the story featured on yahoo’s site it said, “International fight over the exit sign,” and when you go to the page where the story was first posted the headline reads, “The Big Red Word v. the Little Green Man.”
    I found the story on March 10 at the top of yahoo’s home page. However the story was first published on March 8 at “http://www.slate.com/id/2246107/?yahoo=y.”
    My favorite headline of the three is the one that first caught my eye, “Global fight over exit sign.” I liked it because it was unusual. It caught my eye and made me go, “What?” It was also short and to the point while still being clear. The second one did not seem to flow as well to me because they use the word international instead global. Global is shorter, which makes it easier to read and comprehend quickly. The second headline also added in the word “the,” which simply seemed unnecessary to have in the headline. The last headline that it was originally posted under was long and rather confusing. It was interesting, but it wasn’t clear what exactly it was talking about. It, therefore, did not have the “what?” factor of the first. Yahoo’s made me wonder why anyone would be arguing over the exit sign, while the original inspired no curiosity, because I had no idea what they were even talking about. In summary, I think the headline, “Global fight over exit sign” worked because it was clear and concise. It also worked because it gave me just enough information to make me curious and get me hooked.

  15. DeShaun
    March 11, 2010 at 9:28 am

    I found a this headline in the NY Times on Tuesday, “Solar Industry Learns Lessons in Spanish Sun.”


    This headline drew me in, not because is hit me in my face with an ultra-cleaver headline. It made me ask, “What did they learn?” If a headline makes me ask a question then I’m more inclined to read the story to find out. Headlines that make me wonder are the ones that pull me in the most. I like cleaver headlines but sometimes they can be cheesy at times. So I thought this one worked because is wasn’t trying to be too flashy. Good headline to me!

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