Article after article scrolls by on the screen. Then, in a flash of brilliant copywriting, a headline catches your eye. You’re hooked. You must read on.
If you are a storyteller or a person who just likes a good story, you are well aware of the power that a well-written headline has. It is the power to entice, to persuade. It is a call to action. It is a reason to believe. Once you start down the path the headline opens up for you, either you’ll truly enjoy the story or feel like you’ve been robbed – of your time and your sensibility.
That’s what headline hype is all about. It is an inflation of the facts of the story to get your attention. Stories “grab headlines” because the details are such that the media editor can manipulate them into something that interests a wide audience. Headline hype has been the way the media has worked for so long that doing anything different simply does not work.
Now, with the advent of a fractured information feed, headlines become even more important. There is an abundance of media to choose from and the only way to delineate between those things that interest you and those things that you could not care any less about is the headline.
Is this putting too much pressure on the headline writer? I don’t think so, because good writers and good editors make their hay in the headline – we buy the story because of the headline.
So, the next time you scroll through your news feed, think about why you chose the story you’re reading and how you feel about the story. It may just be a bunch of hype.