A headline that will attract lots of clicks

By Steve Outing

NYTimes.com: Why Pregnant Women Don’t Tip Over

Words matter when it comes to headlines attracting readers. I learned that when I managed an eyetracking project for the Poynter Institute a few years ago. We noticed how headlines get viewed by the eye, typically, for only the first couple words; it takes a level of commitment for an online user to read an entire headline. Headlines with strong wording are more likely to get read — like this one.

If “Why Pregnant Women Don’t Tip Over” doesn’t make it to NYTimes.com’s Most E-mailed list, I’ll be shocked.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!

5 Responses to "A headline that will attract lots of clicks"

  1. Jesse Sarles
    Jesse Sarles 10 years ago .Reply

    This was an amazing thing to see on the cover of Parade this morning when we got our paper. What a shocking thing to have someone who had been killed featured in such a way. My wife and I did double and triple-takes when we saw this cover. Glad to know we weren\'t the only ones whose jaws dropped.

    – Jesse Sarles

  2. JohnofScribbleSheet
    JohnofScribbleSheet 10 years ago .Reply

    The whole episode was a bit of a joke. Egg all over their faces.

  3. Lori
    Lori 10 years ago .Reply

    People actually *read* Parade? Really? That superficial waste of perfectly good trees has been irrelevant for decades…

  4. TK
    TK 10 years ago .Reply

    The quality of Parade overall is separate from the issue of publication.

    Let\'s say a blogger got an interview with Bhutto shortly before her death but for reasons not out of the realm of possibility could not shovel the raw audio or a text transcript onto the Web until after she was assassinated.

    Would there be an outcry of similar proportions? Would we pillory the blogger for failing to delete the files from his or her drive instead of posting Bhutto\'s words for our reflection and comment?

    The Web is clogged with commentary and reporting that is outdated since its publication, yet one Google search away from our desktops. That does not make online journalism irrelevant: For the discerning user, it is all the more enlightening.

    I\'m a managing editor in a medium metro market and received one phone call of complaint on the Parade insert out of 140,000 copies sold Sunday. We run a 24-7 operation in a very competitive market with strong broadcast sites and proliferating citizen media. I\'m grateful that some readers apparently still understand that they can find some meaning in journalism published outside this cycle.

    Our newspaper ran a front-page explanation of the Parade feature and our decision to pass Parade along to readers despite the fact that the subject had been killed and the story outdated. Journalism hardened into history before print publication in this case. But what\'s the harm?

  5. Charlie Meyerson
    Charlie Meyerson 10 years ago .Reply

    This situation is reminiscent of poor timing that smacked the publishers of Superman in 1963, just after the assassination of JFK:

    Did Parade learn nothing then? Hah?

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