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What makes a good headline?

Do headlines really matter? Consider most readers are scanners. They skim the printed page reading only the story that grabs their interest. They may decide whether or not to buy the paper based on a quick scan of the headlines peeking out from a newsstand or news rack. Most readers spend only seconds online before they decide whether to click on a story or turn to a different website. The importance of good headlines can’t be overestimated.

Click here to read about what makes a good headline. Then scan a news website or a newspaper page. Find two headlines that made you want to read the story. Tell me what the headlines said, briefly what the stories are about and why you liked the headlines. Post your answers before the beginning of class on Monday, Oct. 25, in the comments section below for your class.

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  1. Jeremy Hamann
    October 24, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    My first headline was found on the news aggregating blog http://www.drudgereport.com. The headline reads: Teleprompter to make its debut in Parliment when Obama speaks. The story is about the planned trip to India that President Obama is taking. During this trip Obama will be speaking in front of the Indian Parliment and he will be bringing along his ubiquitous speech reading aide. The story explains that it will be the first time this device will be used in the hall in which the President is speaking. The headline is effective in terms of cleverness because it anthropomorphizes a teleprompter, it’s funny. The headline is also effective because it’s negative and criticizing tone caters well to the majority Conservative readership of The Drudge Report.
    My next headline comes The New York Times business section. It reads:”With Kinect, Microsoft Aims for a Game Changer.” The Kinect is Microsoft’s latest addition to their video game system, the Xbox 360. The device allows for contollerless motion play and is hoped by Microsoft to be a revolutionary device in gamepplay as well as in overall computer use. The headline of the article is effictive because it is clever in that it leaves a sliver of mystery as to what exactly the Kinect is. I think the Times takes a leap of faith when it trusts its readership to be clever enough to piece together the words “Game” and “Microsoft” to equal Xbox 360. A story with the word Microsoft is usually enough the pique the interest of many readers just because of how big a name it is. So, the Times didn’t need to spell too much out in its headline to grab the reader’s attention and so, I think it is effective as a headline.

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