All 3 entries tagged BBC News Online

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December 25, 2006

A new model saving the Middle East

BBC News Online headline

Peter, presumably, is serving mince pies. Seen on BBC News Online about 3 minutes ago.

UPDATE: CNN are getting in on the act. They’re showing a strange attitude to the War on Terror with their Entertainment article ‘Biggest Bombs of the Year’.


December 04, 2006

Dodgy Headlines #8469

From the frontpage of BBC News Online:

Liverpool nearing Dubai takeover

This leads to a number of questions.

  1. Can the Middle East deal with the crisis in the Gaza Strip and a load of Scousers?
  2. How will transport links between Liverpool and its surrogate city be improved?
  3. Will Liverpool be seeking to import the weather from its acquisition?
  4. How long before Manchester makes a move on Qatar?
  5. Didn’t colonialism die out a few years ago?

The story, by the way, is about the investment arm of Dubai’s government buying Liverpool Football Club.


October 12, 2006

The Science of Headlines

Amanda Powell, editor of BBC News Wales websitesWhat makes a good headline?

According to Amanda Powell (right), editor of BBC News Online in Wales, there’s far more to it than you’d imagine, and it’s all about trying to feed you the bare bones of the story as quickly as possible.

At the moment, users of BBC News Online spend an average of 3.12minutes on the site every time they visit and Amanda says they’re trying to get you to view more stories in those 3.12mins.

How do they do this? By feeding you as much information as they can at the top of the story, and that means in the headline and the summary. As a result, a lot of work goes into getting these right.

BBC News WalesBelieve it or not, the BBC’s content production system makes you choose a headline of 31-33 characters, which is pretty precise. This is so it can work on Ceefax and mobile phones, as well as the web.

Check out this story from the Press Association:

“European Commission enters UK cheese row”

This headline seems to strike a delicate balance between describing what is essentially a dull, albeit amusing story, and grabbing the reader’s attention. The words “UK cheese row” offset the audience-killing “European Commission”.

But if the aim of the exercise is to help you read as little of the story as possible in order to understand it, is that necessarily a good thing? Aren’t journalists shooting themselves in the foot if they try and help you consume as little as possible of their work? It’s an interesting one and makes me feel reporting can sometimes be a little artless.


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