April 10th, 2006

i am not a stuffed tiger.

fake headlines

Almost every story about the New York Times report on the way that headline writing has changed to accommodate the armies of robots searching the web for news implies that the new, more searchable, informative headlines are boring and provide a generally substandard user experience:
"You put those demands, and that you know you're also writing for search engines, and you tend to write headlines that are more straightforward," said Lou Ferrara, online editor of The Associated Press. "My worry is that some creativity is lost." [nyt]

But I wonder if the "clever" headlines increasingly being reserved for print editions are actually better in any measurable sense other than keeping punny headline writes in business. Do readers actually enjoy them? Are people more likely to read an article accompanying a cute headline only when they're reading a news printed in ink rather than in pixels?

It's just seems really strange that the reaction to "we now have tons of data about which stories attract readers" is "let's change the way stories are labeled online and disregard this pesky information for our print edition".