14 April 2009

The mastery of headlines

I was told once by a person in the know that headlines for many an on-line article are cobbled together by an editor and not necessarily by the author of the article.

Frequently a headline distorts the contents of the story in a way that makes reading it (the story) seemingly unnecessary. Ray Cook tells in three posts a saga of a BBC headline "evolution".

Headline No 1. Palestinian killed in demolition (no he was not!)

Headline No 2. Police kill Palestinian motorist (whilst attempting a 3-point turn, no doubt)

And now, No 3. Palestinian ‘attacker’ shot dead
The saga caused me an urge to attempt an experiment in headline craft. So I have taken a few articles from various on-line sources and created a different headline, linking the real story. Here are a few examples.

Mercenaries murder three Somail freedom fighters

Egypt interferes with Hezbollah resistance heroes' activities

Thai army takes to the streets - protests and rampage in Bangkok

21 homeless killed in Poland

Syrian Ambassador prefers men

So - do I get a job on BBC on-line team?