IT’S OFFICIAL: These are Jason Hirschhorn and Paul Carr’s TOP FOURTEEN worst media/tech headline clichés of 2011
I’m addicted to Jason Hirschhorn’s MediaReDEF feed — a stream of human-curated media/technology headlines, delivered straight to my Twitter and email throughout the day. You should subscribe, you’ll soon be addicted too.
Still, one of the problems of reading headlines from media-tech blogs all day (not to mention having spent almost two years writing for one) is that one quickly comes to realise how appalling many bloggers are at writing headlines. Appalling and lazy.
A couple of weeks ago, during a particularly cliché-filled news day, Jason and I got into a Twitter discussion about our least favourite sloppy headline habits. Realising we shared many of the same pet peeves, he suggested we post a list of the worst of them — perhaps in the hope being that it might spur some fresh ideas in blog headline writing. It won’t, of course, but it sure was cathartic to compile the list.
Here, then, are Jason Hirschhorn and Paul Carr’s fourteen worst blog headline clichés. Bloggers: your New Year’s resolution is to avoid all of these in 2012.
If you were so worried about it being official you would have waited to write about it in the first place. But you didn’t, we clicked on the it and we read it, so the official thing just doesn’t matter to us now. Oh and we can’t stand “TOLDJA” either.
X Just Did Y
Prevalent amongst bloggers who think it makes headlines sound urgent and epochal, in reality it’s a guaranteed sign of amateur hour at the news factory. Of course it just happened, you idiot, it’s news. (See also: headlines that begin with “Yes,” — as in “Yes, X Just Hired Y” as if the headline writer is anticipating a chorus of pantomime-style disbelief.)
This X-Year-Old Just Did Something
Don’t even click. They are just saying that some kid just made a boatload of money you will never earn or did something you will never do. We’re not saying you won’t — but they are implying it. Jealously and comparing your lot in life to others gets page views.
Did X Just Kill Whatever?
Often used in conjunction with “just” (above), as in “Did Apple just kill the CD/mouse/keyboard/monitor?”. “X launches Y killer.” “Will Q kill R?” No and no. (OJ, on the other hand: guilty.)
X Needs To Bet The Entire Company On This
No, they don’t. Listen, we love a good McRib but McDonald’s shouldn’t bet the whole company on it. Usually these suggestions are beyond wacky. A little focus never hurt anyone, but c’mon.
This Changes Everything or This. Changes. Everything.
We’d bet on this not being the case like we double down on an 11 facing a six in Blackjack. Almost always. It just came out. It likely changes nothing. In a year if it changes everything then, well, write “This. Changed. Everything.”
Top Ten…. X
Often paired with a SLIDESHOW, top tens are the very nadir of the online headline writers art (save perhaps for the even lazier “Top Eight…”) Who amongst us hasn’t fantasized about submitting a piece to the HuffPost entitled “The top ten slideshows of all time?” Trouble is, they’d post it. And it would do a ton of traffic. (Related: X Things You Need to Know… We have a general problem with authority that dates back to getting kicked out of high school. Don’t tell us what to do or what we need to know.)
Is This The World’s X-est Y?
As a general rule, if a headline asks you a question, the answer is no. Is this the world’s fattest child? No. Is this the world’s most expensive burger? No. Is this the world’s most diabetic swan? Perhaps.
Which Star Just Did X?
“This celebrity just did something grotesque with a pie!” Who? What? Oh, right, no-one and nothing. These guessing game headlines are all about getting the damn click through. (Related: “How Much Did Teen Charlotte Bronte Manuscript Sell For?” You tell me, HuffPost Books — you’re the one writing the fucking headline.)
Is the writer being deliberately misleading or is online copy editing dead? Or both? Turns out that the BBC’s headline “Sports Stars on Speed” (BBC) had nothing to do with athletes on amphetamines and everything to do with celebrities paying tribute to their recently recently deceased colleague Gary Speed. And could “Michael Moore Fails To Recall Own Book” (HuffPost) really mean that the liberal author can’t remember writing one of his own tomes? Nope — bizarrely it was a story about Michael Moore being unable to prevent a bookstore from stocking his book.
[Headline image credits: Business Insider, Business Insider, Business Insider, MarketWatch, Business Insider, Business Insider, Business Insider, All Things D, Business Insider, The Score, Business Insider, All Things D/HuffPost, VentureBeat.]