washington post

The death of the headline

SEO1 killed the headline. So says this piece from the Washington Post.

“My biggest beef with the New Newsroom, though, is what has happened to headlines. In old newsrooms, headline writing was considered an art. This might seem like a stretch to you, but not to copy editors, who graduated from college with a degree in English literature, did their master’s thesis on intimations of mortality in the early works of Molière, and then spent the next 20 years making sure to change commas to semicolons in the absence of a conjunction. The only really creative opportunity copy editors had was writing headlines, and they took it seriously…

Newspapers still have headlines, of course, but they don’t seem to strive for greatness or to risk flopping anymore, because editors know that when the stories arrive on the Web, even the best headlines will be changed to something dull but utilitarian. That’s because, on the Web, headlines aren’t designed to catch readers’ eyes. They are designed for “search engine optimization,” meaning that readers who are looking for information about something will find the story, giving the newspaper a coveted “eyeball.” Putting well-known names in headlines is considered shrewd, even if creativity suffers.”

I struggle to decide whether to write headlines for googlers or headlines for my own amusement. I mostly settle for the latter, unless I can’t think of anything punny.

1 Search Engine Optimisation

Driscoll on the “good” question

Mark Driscoll’s column in the Washington Post is a delight to follow. This time around he tackles the question of goodness without God.

His answer is worth reading in full.

It clarifies the Christian position in a way that tackles the offence atheists take when we make the claim that God is the root cause of goodness.

“Therefore, right and wrong are ultimate standards rooted in the character of God and revealed in the teaching and life of Jesus Christ. Even those who do not believe in a god, or worship Jesus as the only God, cannot altogether erase the deep imprint of right and wrong because God stamped it on their very nature so that, despite being marred by sinful rebellion, it cannot be denied or ignored. In fact, we each appeal to this moral law every time evil is done against us; we appeal for something more than merely the survival of the fittest, where might makes right and morality is determined by those holding power. Therefore, we image God by respecting all of human life, particularly the weak, oppressed, sick, elderly, poor, unborn, and racial and cultural minorities because God values them as his image bearers.”

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