I love headlines. One on-line service defines “headline” as “a heading at the top of an article or page in a newspaper or magazine”. This seems rather limited now since many on-line services and other organs use headlines to encourage readers. Perhaps Merriam-Webster on-line has a better definition, “Words set at the head of a passage or page to introduce or categorize”, but then they offer a 2nd definition as weak as the first meaning above, “A head of a newspaper story or article usually printed in large type and giving the gist of the story or article that follows”. This is altogether more descriptive and accurate, but does it apply to just newspapers that people seldom read today?
What I do know is that good headlines are difficult to write. Way back when I actually worked for a newspaper or two, I often had little trouble writing an article but then agonized over how to word the title. Writing a blog is tricky. It’s hard to use words that will help readers find stuff to read that suits their exact interests. Often a headline seems generic and dull even though it’s far more helpful.
Anyway, I collect unusual headlines and have for years. Today I googled weird headlines and was surprised by how many services like huffpost.com use headlines to stimulate the imagination like “OREGON THIEF BERATED MOM WHO LEFT 4-YEAR-OLD BOY IN CAR HE STOLE”. This is, in my opinion, unwieldy but curious and funny. I want to read the article.
Below are some recent headlines that I found today followed by some that are old and I recently found in a folder. I have proof that they were once actually used.
MISSIPPI’S LITERACY PROGRAM SHOWS IMPROVEMENT
MURDERER SAYS DETECTIVE RUINED HIS REPUTATION
BEST MAN LEFT BLEEDING AFTER BEING HIT….BY FLYING DILDO.
FEDERAL AGENTS RAID GUN SHOW, FIND WEAPONS
and LOOSE COW IN MASSACHUSETTS CAPTURED AFTER SIX MONTHS
The following were in my folder and were really used
JUST-REPAIRED PLANE CRASHES INTO TOY FACTORY
DOG KILLED, COUPLE HURT IN FIRE AT BOWLING ALLEY
STOVE, LEFT ON, DESTROYS KITCHEN
SHOT MAN WON’T TALK TO POLICE
and my favorite, which could apply to me, THE MAN WHO’S BEEN EVERYWHERE, EXCEPT THESE PLACES
Headlines that make you want to read on do work, in my opinion, superbly.