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Judging a headline contest

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by HejiraHenry, Apr 24, 2008.

  1. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    I've got a stack of manila folders in the basement filled with AP contest entries from another state. No, I won't tell you which one. At the end of this little jag, I have a question.

    You can skip to the bottom if you want.

    I made an initial, gut-feeling cut, then went back and read everything carefully, to see if I missed something in my first pass. Now I'm down to the nitty gritty.

    The small-paper division only had maybe a half-dozen entries, one of which was clearly better than the others.

    The middle division(s) had more of everything – more entries, more decent headlines, maybe 4 or 5 that could be the best depending on your point of view. I'll hash that out pretty quickly now that I have looked everything over,

    The division for metro papers, though, is a b*tch. On the two smaller divisions, the best headlines all seemed to be on feature stories. Only a couple were sports stories or sports features. The metro divison has its share of feature heads, no sports heads but also a handful of gripping news headlines ... the kind where I read the headline on the entry form and said, "Damn, I've got to read that."

    To me, that's a great headline ... the one that you can't get past until you read the story. No cliches or even inverted cliches (personal favorite), just perfect word choices that tell a story. The best of the metro heads actually sums up the whole (crime-type) story in six or seven words, while daring you not to read the story to understand what happened.

    Here's my question: The metro entries include a mix of heads written for local stories and some featurey heads written for wire-based features. My tendency is to give the heads written for local copy a great deal more weight than the ones written for wire, as I can't be sure about the provenance of the heads on wire stories or rewrites. Maybe the wire story came with a suggested head and desker just tweaked it. I have no way of knowing.

    Anybody run into this issue as a contest judge or have any thoughts?
  2. txsportsscribe

    txsportsscribe Active Member

    texas apme headline entries are supposed to come from local staff stories
  3. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    That's a good rule.
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