Headline writing

Powerful media outlet, “Fox News” tied to Norwegian Terrorist

Apparently, according to Fox News, all that is needed to link something good, with something bad, is the use of a common language.

Powerful ‘Flame’ cyberweapon tied to popular Angry Birds game

“The most sophisticated and powerful cyberweapon uncovered to date was written in the LUA computer language, cyber security experts tell Fox News — the same one used to make the incredibly popular Angry Birds game.”

And the image that they used with the story (in case you are smart enough not to click through)…

Fox News published this amazingly over the top, and downright idiotic headline and lede in English. Norwegian psycho Anders Breivik published his manifesto in English. Link established.

Seriously. This is horribad journalism. I know. It’s odd to be getting angry at Fox’s stupidity over a story like this, but it’s a dumb story that serves a much broader point about their credibility.

That is all.

Best Headline Ever

Did you hear the one about the guy who tattooed his frenemy’s back as a “peace offering” – only, he didn’t. He drew a giant phallus instead. It happened in Ipswich, Queensland. Which is typical of things that go on there.

Yahoo’s news service produced arguably the funniest headline I’ve ever read in response.

Australian tattooist charged over rude doodle

The sub editor who wrote that deserves a substantial raise.

It feels weird tagging a post about Ipswich in “Culture” but there you go.

Beattie’s Law of Newspaper Headlines

If you’re from Queensland you might immediately associate this headline with former Premier Peter Beattie. Don’t. It has nothing to do with him. If it did, the law would read: “Be in them as many times as possible.” This one is cooler:

“If there’s a question mark in the headline the answer is either (tabloid) “no” or (broadsheet) “who cares?”

Think about it. It’s true. Isn’t it.

Acronyms v Initialisms

Just so you know… if you reduce a series of words to initials and pronounce them as a word it’s an acronym, and if you pronounce each letter individually it’s an initialism.

So when I write a headline using an acronym it’s your job to read it as a word so that you get the pun.

Ironically, TLA the popular “acronym” for three letter acronyms isn’t an acronym, it’s an initialism. 

Thanks. That is all.

Missing baby found in Sandwich

That would have been an incredibly fun headline to write… Especially because it’s actually not as bad as it sounds.

The story is a little sad – as any stories where children live in broken and violent homes. But not as disturbing as the picture that pops into one’s head…

“Police say John Fielding was drunk and had assaulted the infant’s mother before he sped off with his daughter. A short time later, Fielding was found in Sandwich, MA.”

That’s got to win points for misleading people…

Fat chance

Morbidly obese pregnant women ‘commonplace’

Does this mean it’s ok to ask a large lady if she’s pregnant now?

Really though, this is another one of those irresistible headlines from the SMH.

Particularly when coupled with this picture:

Insert “your mum’s so fat” joke here.

This article really poses more questions than answers… but lets not go there. This is mostly a family friendly blog. Perhaps no more.

That is all.

Hit for headline writers

There’s a set formula for writing hackneyed cricket headlines that goes as follows:

“{Subject} hits {players name} for {six} or {actual figure based on the story}.”

You can alternate that with a passive voice format for variety. But very rarely should you ever leave that trusty formula completely. Unless you want to be interesting and engaging.

Case in point: CA hits Symonds for $4000

Ok, so I may be exaggerating- the SMH to its credit doesn’t have a whole lot of those. At the moment. But it’s such cliched headline writing.

Bach off

This is the best work of the 2008 Walkley awards best headline winner Rob Mills. It’s good – but I think the real gem came from one of the other nominees. I’d like to know on what basis these were selected. The winners announcement says:

“Knowing what makes a good headline is instinctive and ethereal rather than formulaic, but Mills prefers to use humour to grab readers’ attention. These headlines, from politics to the arts, shimmer with lively puns and pop-culture references. They are layered, lithe and fresh.”

Here’s the complete list of nominees and their submissions:Headings
Rick FeneleyThe Sydney Morning Herald,
“The felonious monk and his trail of lies”
“Welcome to the CBD: all arteries, no pulse”
“Della in the freezer”

Rob MillsThe Sydney Morning Herald,
“Bach from the dead: fresh portrait of a decomposer”
“Yes, I did inhale: Liberal leader admits sniffing staffer’s chair”
“Dear me: Della penned Iguanas letter”

David WinterThe Monthly,
“It’s Bennelong time”
“The great pretender”
“From Mandarin to top banana”

My favourite by far is the last one. I even bought the magazine in question thanks to that stunning cover headline. I do like the Bach one though.

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