The dearth of witty heds online is enough to make a copy editor cry, but...

TheAtlantic.com

"Rather than settle for a humorless future, some online editors are fighting back by refusing to embrace SEO guidelines for every story," writes David Wheeler. He says that because young journalists are beginning their careers at the dawn of the SEO craze, some fans of funny headlines wonder if the battle has already been lost.

"Sharp, witty headlines that stray off the 'literalness' line will live, barely, for a little while longer," says Lexington Herald-Leader copy editor Will Scott. "However, as the veterans of newspapers are gradually replaced by younger copy editors who grew up with the Web, we will see such headlines less and less."

From "Why Journalists Need to Stop Resenting SEO"

Learn how to write an SEO-friendly headline: One of the biggest complaints from journalists seems to be that SEO is killing their headlines. Instead of being poetic in titles, journalists now have to use “SEO-powered words”. While I love a good pun as much as anyone, the “SEO-powered words” get your content found. Not using them loses you traffic.

When U.S. Airways Flight 1549 crashed into the Hudson River, The New York Times was the first outlet to break the story. For some reason, they didn’t use the term “plane crash” in the title and created something clever instead. The result was that no one saw their story. All of their readers and their potential readers were searching for “plane crash”. They missed out the thousands (millions?) of people who were frantically searching for information about what had happened. You can’t do that. And yet it happens with papers every day.

> Gene Weingarten: My biggest beef with the New Newsroom is what has happened to headlines

  • Jim Romenesko

    From 1999 to 2011, Jim Romenesko maintained the Romenesko page for the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based non-profit school for journalists. Poynter hired him in August of 1999, after seeing his MediaGossip.com, a hobby site he started in May of 1999.

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