A headline that doesn’t make sense
While reading the Times story “Opera Winfrey says goodbye to television talk show after 25 years“, I accidentally noticed another headline which says “Focus on the big issues, not bananas”.
I was so curious that I decided to click through to find out what it is about. Here it is:
Focus on the big issues, not the bananas
Open elections, greater democracy, energy and aid should head the list for Europe’s new leaders
Alas, after 20 words, I figured out what this article is about when I see “Europe’s new leaders”.
I don’t know if there is any cultural connotations in the headline. If not, I have to say this is really a bad headline no matter how “fit” it appears to those who finish reading the article.
The intro is also terrible. Subject is too long, and verb is too far away from the subject. Even though it comes in S-V-O format, it fails to deliver the message effectively.
I understand this is a comment article, not a piece of news, but still, it could have been better, at least in terms of headline and intro line.
BBC is said to have the best intro for its stories. I searched BBC site and here’s some of its headlines and intros:
- Is the new EU President a good choice?
EU leaders have chosen the Belgian Prime Minister, Herman van Rompuy, as their new President. Is he the best person for the job?
- The Record: Europe
After weeks of horse-trading and meetings in smoke-filled rooms, the top EU jobs have been appointed.
- EU foreign head dismisses critics
One of the two newly appointed figures to the European Union’s top jobs has hit back at criticism that she does not have enough experience for the post.
PS: When I typed the headline of the Opera Winfrey story, I typed “said”, and then I realized it is “says”. This reminded me of what my TV Journalism teacher Richard said over a week ago: “Try to use the present tense to engage your audience” (not the exact words, but the meaning is there. Thanks, Richard. )