Much has been written about the death of the headline. Search engines, RSS feeds and news aggregators rely on short, descriptive, factual headlines that quickly convey the essence of the story to a busy reader.
But what about the whimsicial, humorous headers that provide our news with unique character, that define events through near-poetic wordplay. What of them? In this age of identical bland media products news organisations that want to differentiate themselves should not sacrifice uniqueness in the name of SEO. They should preserve clever headlines in some way – perhaps as sub-heads – while at the same time deploying the more utilitarian version.
But there is a third way. The headline that both boldly seizes the imagination and also tells the whole story in a few words. And it is here that I doff my cap to whoever wrote the bills at the Glasgow Daily Record on the night of 3 July. John Smeaton, aka the real John McClane, had given an interview about tackling one of scumbags who had attempted to carbomb Glasgow airport.
This is interesting enough in itself, but the bill (the poster outside the newsagent that tries to get you to buy the paper) took headline writing to new heights. It gripped the reader. It caught the breath. It told the whole story but left you wanting to read more.
The headline? Well, thanks to a picture taken by Februus, I can show you it in all its perfect beauty:
Wonderful, isn’t it? I think I’m going to cry.