26 August 2015

Hashing Out The Meat of the Story in This Week’s Headlines

Headline writing is an art and a well written one will usually ensures increased readership of the headline’s story.  But sometimes even poorly written headlines can spur readership if the subject matter is interesting enough on its own merits.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 4.58.41 PMTake for example: “Panic Strikes as Cops Investigate Cloaked Figure Leaving Raw Meat in Playgrounds in North Carolina

Not the best written headline, but the headline hints of intrigue, crime and craziness, all of which usually make for entertaining reading. Unfortunately, there’s not much of a story here. Essentially some nutcase (and you’ve got to be nuts to run around in a cloak on hot August days in Carolina) has been dropping raw chunks of meat in multiple playgrounds in the town of Gastonia. The “panic” is being sown on social media by concerned citizens warning their neighborhoods about the cloaked raw meat spreader, and the police, well, they seem to be assuming that it’s just a prank.

For the record our headline would’ve been: “Mysterious Cloaked Figure Dropping Raw Meat in Public Parks–Free BBQ Dinner Slated Tonight for Simms Legion Park”

Consider: “David Spade Recalls the Time Jack Nicholson Asked Out Girlfriend Lara Flynn Boyle Right in Front of Him

Again, not a great headline, but celebrity names can definitely pull in the readers. But no story here, folks. Essentially Spade waxes about how Nicholson asked out his current girlfriend right in front of him. We’re talking way back in 1998, which is ancient history, and Spade didn’t even man up and defend his or her honor. Needless to say, but Lara Flynn was soon thereafter going out with Nicholson.

Our Headline: “David Spade Blathers On About Lost Loves” Or, more aptly: “No Story Here, Folks!”

How about: “Man dies after run over by tank at Jelly Belly chairman’s California property

It’s not often you see military equipment connected with candy, but apparently the chairman of Jelly Belly is fond of military hardware. Riding on top of a tank is not quite the same as a hay-ride, which one unfortunate guest at the chairman’s party found out the hard way, after losing his grip and falling under the tracks.

With condolences to the unfortunate victim, our headline: “Man turned into Jell-O by Jelly Belly chairman’s WWII tank”

And we’ve got: “Boston police thwart possible shooting at Pokemon game competitionth

OK, what gives here? Isn’t Pokemon a cartoon and a kid’s game? The story behind the headline is that two apparent misfilts from Iowa drove 25 hours to Boston and were prevented from entering the Pokemon World Championship being held in Boston’s convention center, based on threats they had made over the internet. The threats were serious enough sounding to warrant concern, and the pair were arrested after several weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition were found in the trunk of their car. So, OK, perhaps there could have been a “possible shooting” at the Pokemon championship, but, thankfully, we’ll never know.

Our headline: “Guns Replace Poke Balls at Pokemon World Championship”

And let’s consider: “Researcher: Long stares can produce LSD effects

Right, and the crux of this story is that a researcher conducted a test in which 40 people were tasked with staring into other people’s eyes in a dimly lit room for 10 minutes. As reported by Psychiatry Research, 90 percent of participants saw the other person’s face deform, with 75 percent reporting that the faces transformed into “monster-like” beings, and 30 percent seeing animals. We think the real story here would be in determining why this experiment is scientifically important and what the researcher hopes to gain from it. Another angle could examine the cost of this experiment, as such costs can often be astronomical, especially when taxpayer money is involved.

How about: “Researcher Seeks Free LSD Experience”

th-3Finally, “Burning Man is Crawling With Bugs: ‘They Get Up And In You’”

Yipe! Sounds like a horror movie. For some people the “Burning Man” festival might seem creepy enough, what with the participants revelling in the burning of a giant effigy of indeterminate meaning. But this year the 70,000 or so revellers are facing an infestation of bugs. According to the story, two participants have required medical attention, and the Burning Man Blog gave notice of the infestation with the following: “You may have seen the bug rumors on the internet. We are here to tell you that they are all true. Well maybe not all of the rumors, but the bugs are real. They’re everywhere. They bite. They crawl all over you. They get up and in you.”

For the record we’ve heard that tickets for the festival are going for about $400 and up. We think we’ll take a pass, thank you. Our headline: “Burning Man Prematurely Lit as Festival Goers Fight Insect Plague With Fire” Or, perhaps just: “Burning Bug Festival Proclaimed Success!”

–M.J. Moye



M.J. Moye