The Long View of Headline Writing: Where Art Meets Science

This post is by Terri Walter and Nalini Edwin from MediaShift

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It’s that time of year again, when media grows reflective and retrospective. Across the industry, headlines begin to take the long view. Everywhere we look, we see lookbacks, best-of and worst-of lists, roundups, and other invitations to the year-in-review. This ritual offers an important point about headlines — one worth paying attention to. After all, headlines are the fundamental link between content and the people who consume it, connecting reader to reading material whether in print or online. While digital technology has rewrought media production both visually and existentially, the central purpose of headlines hasn’t changed all that much from the days of hot type. “The job of a headline is to get people to read the article in a manner that is true to the story,” wrote Mark Bulik, The New York Times’ senior editor for digital headlines, earlier this year. He then added: “[M]aking sure we’re giving people
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