Friday, November 7, 2008


Did any of you see this story yesterday?

Woman Runs Mile With Rabid Fox Biting Her Arm

Now THAT’s a headline. How could you not read that?

Good headlines are an art form, and they’re surprisingly hard to write. On the Web they’re less restrictive because you don’t have a finite space to fill. But in print they can be tough.

I once won a headline writing competition at a seminar. The story had something to do with a cross-dressing bank robber, and the editors asked everyone in the room to write a headline for the story. We had a specific length to fit, and the key was to provide detail that would make people want to read the article. I was the only one in the room who managed to fit “transvestite” into the headline -- but let’s face it, that’s the key to the story. Otherwise it’s just another bank robbery.

Something must be going on with foxes out there, because I saw another bizarre fox headline yesterday. I think I remember reading that foxes, like raccoons and bats, are one of the animals most likely to be rabid.

Gray fox attacks worshippers inside church

And here are two more intriguing headlines I came across in recent months:

Dead son can't be prosecuted for keeping mom in freezer

Police: Butter-hungry man pulls knife at church buffet

You gotta read those. Right?

(Photo: Street art by Imminent Disaster, July 2008)


  1. My only experience with headlines is coming up with titles for Blog posts. At least I'm not losing money if I fail to attract an audience!

  2. It won't surprise you to learn that I LOVE the art of headlines. Succinct yet alluring.

    I think the Wall Street Journal is really good at headlines (even though I cringe at their editorial point of view). Of course the NYT is GREAT. The WaPo - not so much.

    I did read about the fox biting the woman's arm. Whazzup with foxes?

  3. Headlines ARE tough to write - at least if you want to do it right! Great blog post titles are hard enough, and many days I just take the easy road.

  4. Makes me proud to be an Arizonan.

  5. JDZS: I take the easy road too! (One word, most of the time! :) )

    These headlines, funny as they are, don't really have the succinct beauty of some print headlines, because they're all from the Web. I love a good five-word headline that tells it all. (The New York Post and Daily News are both famous for short attention-grabbers.)

  6. ha! the butter hungry man one is hilarious! have a good break ste. you do NEED an ipod!! sorry i've been poor at visiting! i'm off to thailand next week for 3 wks. hanging out for it!

  7. hahaha

    these are excellent!