What is the importance of a newspaper headline? In a society where more consumers are getting their news from social networking sites than printed papers, headlines can be the difference between a newspaper being purchased and it being recycled. Headlines are the attention-grabber for newspapers. They offer enough information to hook the reader’s attention, offer a snippet of information, and encourage further reading.
For any headline, it is important to remember word placement. Because headlines are often hurriedly written as the paper goes to press, writers and copy editors must be sagacious in their word choice. Take the following headline: “President X to build new arms.” The rushed copy editor who wrote this headline is aware that arms are referring to weapons, and infers that readers will have the same understanding. However, some readers may not understand this headline immediately as weapons and may instead infer that “arms” refers to bodily limbs, hence the importance of reading and re-reading headlines. A better headline could be, “X Country to build new weaponry” or President X to increase ammunition.”
One of the advantages tabloids have over newspapers is their ability to write effective, attention-grabbing headlines. Because these magazines rely on drawing in readers, often as they shop in a supermarket, the headlines that appear on their front covers must be eye-catching. These tabloids use a variety of techniques to accomplish their efforts including: large font size, accompanying photos, and bold color.
The dilemma that newspapers often face is their ability to grab readers without reducing their credibility as a news source. Newspapers must find a means to effectively draw in readers that is informative and does not diminish news quality. For now, it appears newspapers are still learning.