Gabe Rivera runs a website the tech world knows well called Techmeme. It's a bootstrapped operation that aggregates top tech stories from around the web with a small staff and directly links out to the publications.
Since its founding in 2005, Techmeme has always used headlines written by the publications it pulls articles from. Yesterday, it decided to start writing its own headlines so they will be as straight-forward as possible.
Rivera wrote an article about his decision to start writing his own headlines, and shares some thoughts on why many headlines around the web are no good at all.
- News organizations that cover more than just tech often favor headlines describing the story in the most general terms that the widest possible audience can appreciate at some level. So headlines will omit references to specific companies, people, and technologies unknown to most of their readers yet familiar to Techmeme readers. As our coverage increasingly relies on sources like The Guardian and Washington Post (for reports on government surveillance and other policy matters), this has become a significant issue for Techmeme.
- In some news organizations, particularly the older ones, too often the editor tasked with writing the headline doesn't appreciate the most newsworthy part of the story, "burying the lede" with a headline oblivious to the news.
- With few exceptions, companies announcing bad news will omit specifics at the headline level. For example, a post disclosing the theft of a million user passwords will usually carry a headline such as "Important Security Update".
- Some publishers value clicks from Twitter or Facebook over readers' time, writing (and tweeting) headlines that deliberately omit key details, requiring readers to click to get the most basic summary.
- Even worse, some misleadingly inflate the importance of the news in the headline, goosing clickthroughs, but setting up discerning readers for disappointment.
- Bloggers with a devoted readership who can count on readers consuming the bulk of their output often enjoy writing more cerebral, enigmatic titles with meanings that fully reveal themselves only after reading the story.
- Some bloggers consider composing a headline a mere chore, dashing out a few words thoughtlessly, and moving on.
More From Business Insider
- WEAK: JUST 169,000 NEW JOBS CREATED IN AUGUST, BAD DOWNWARD REVISIONS, LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATE FALLS
- Voters Heckle John McCain Over Push For Syrian Strike
- Take The Quiz That Shows How Much Smarter You Are Than The Rest Of The Population
- Personal Investing Ideas & Strategies
- Gabe Rivera