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Is this a headline?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Irishcheesehead, Sep 4, 2010.

  1. Question headlines: Are they good or bad? I cannot stand them and a colleague said it best, "Headlines and stories provide answers not questions."

    Are there any rules to follow on this topic?
  2. HandsomeHarley

    HandsomeHarley Well-Known Member

    The purpose of a headline is to entice the reader to read the story.

    If you think a question in a headline will achieve that goal, then go for it.
  3. schiezainc

    schiezainc Well-Known Member

    My coworker and I disagree on this all the time. He likes to get clever with his headlines but to the point where you can't tell what the hell kind of story is below it. (An example would be him using the headline "Serve's Up" for a game story on the US Open).

    My headlines tend to be unoriginal and uncreative and dull. ("Avengers run past Dodgers").

    We can't seem to come up with a compromise that works.
  4. jlee

    jlee Well-Known Member

    We used to have stories on in-progress studies by the local university, which went well with question heds.

    Do babies hate fat people?
    Subhed: PDSU researchers analyze infant reactions to cellulite
  5. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    I'd rather have a story and headline with a question than a story and headline with the wrong answer ("Favre to retire")
  6. Mystery Meat II

    Mystery Meat II Well-Known Member

    Sometimes questions ARE the answers
  7. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    I broke all the rules once with a hed that included both a question mark and an exclamation mark. Won the state APME award that year, so you never know.
  8. mediaguy

    mediaguy Well-Known Member

    Are absolute rules good for judging things?
  9. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

    This. Damn near every judgment call we make in this business should be approached on a case-by-case basis.

    Sometimes question heads work, sometimes they don't.

    Any kind of hard and fast rule on judgment calls is bullshit.
  10. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Let's say a columnist writes about Local U coach, questioning the fit but not outright calling for his head just yet.

    "Is Coach Clutz The Right Guy for State U?"

    No problem with that.
  11. Beef03

    Beef03 Active Member

    But coach Clutz shows grace underfire. How could he not be the right man for the job?

    Sorry, that was bad, but I couldn't resist.

    It was said best earlier when some said it is a case by case situation and in this day and age there is no hard and fast rule. It all depends on the paper and the leeway for creativity they give you as well as how appropriate it is for the story. Personally I am not big on them but they do work in certain situations, so I am not completely opposed to them. Gotta be flexible.

    I personally prefer the catchy original heds, but if it is real short there is almost always a subhead to go with it that actually lets you know what the story is. So to use the earlier example, if I went with 'Serve's Up' the subhead would be something like 'U.S. Open gets under way with Federer win' or something of that ilk.

    I also go the uncreative route sometimes. You can't always be super creative and sometimes those efforts just lead to confusion when you try to be too cute. Sometimes it is just best to lay it out there.

    Like I said, Gotta be flexible.
  12. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    Question headlines only work if the question really is the story. If the story is a declaration of a fact, then it almost never works.
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