Writing headlines for web and mobile – Spring 15

Writing headlines for the web and mobile devices is different than writing them for print. You have two audiences online: readers and search engines.

For readers: Headlines should be simple, literal and direct. They must motivate readers to click.

For search engines: Search engines look for keywords. If a headline contains keywords that are also repeated in the text of the article, it will show up higher in search engines.

Suggestions for writing better online headlines:

1. Be descriptive – say clearly what the story is about

2. Use keywords

3. Use conversational language

4. Avoid puns that confuse or are unclear

5. Engage readers – your headline is just one in a zillion circulating on social media.

Love them or hate them, BuzzFeed and UpWorthy know how to do headlines.

Now give it a try. Rewrite the following newspaper headlines for the web.

Example 1:

Trading on Jersey’s Image (Star Ledger – 2/7/15)

Would your morning commute be a little better if you were drinking coffee from an official New Jersey Turnpike travel mug? Would paying tolls be a little less of a task if you could reach in to a genuine Garden State Parkway purse for a quarter to throw in the basket?

These products and more could hit the shelves and boardwalk souvenir shops if the New Jersey Turnpike Authority finds an agent who can get the right price for the use of the Parkway and Turnpike logos.SLturnpike

The authority, which dubbed those logos as “the most iconic of New Jersey images” wants them to join the Nike Swoosh and the Adidas stripes as marketable trademarks that companies will pay to slap on products. To do that, the authority is seeking a marketing gunslinger to make sure they and tollpayers don’t get taken for a ride from knock-off products.

The search for a licensing agent comes less than a year since authority officials filed a lawsuit against a Florida pizzeria to block them from using a sign they contend was similar to the Parkways’ green and yellow logo.

Attorney JoyAnn Kenny of Red Bank, who is defending the original owners of Jersey Boardwalk Pizza, said the suit is still pending, as is her motion to dismiss the case. Her defense is based on the Turnpike Authority’s adoption of national traffic sign standards, which she contends covers the Parkway and Turnpike logo signs.

Attorneys for the authority countered that the Parkway logo isn’t in the public domain, because it isn’t referred to in those standards, and isn’t considered a uniform traffic control sign that’s used through out the nation.

“I was surprised to hear the roadway is moving forward with its own licensing agreement,” Kenny said. “I don’t believe they could assert a copyright over their own logos.”

But this effort has nothing to do with that lawsuit or protecting the trademarked logos, said Thomas Feeney, an authority spokesman. Knockoff Parkway and Turnpike logo items exist now, from t-shirts and hats to a pair of cufflinks made from old Parkway tokens currently being offered on E-Bay. Authority officials already crackdown when they find them. A licensing agent would allow a business to keep making products, if they cut the authority in for a piece of the financial action.

“The Authority already has attorneys who do that. The primary job of the licensing agent would be to develop a program for licensing the logo for use on things like beach towels, tee-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.,” Feeney said.  “The idea grew out of (Former) Commissioner (Jim) Simpson’s directive to find additional sources of non-toll revenue.”

Example 2

New Reason Not To Drink (Asbury Park Press – 2/7/15)

The state Senate passed a bill Friday that eases the punishment for some motorists convicted of drunken driving but requires all first-time offenders to install an ignition interlock device in their cars.

The bill, which passed 29-4 and goes to the governor’s desk, would suspend the license of a first-time offender for 10 days and require the device to be installed at the person’s expense on one vehicle for three months, if the person’s blood alcohol concentration was between 0.08 and 0.10 percent. A person would only have his or her license reinstated upon showing proof of installation.APP

A first-time offender with a BAC between 0.10 and 0.15 percent would have his or her license suspended for 10 days and have the ignition interlock device for seven months to a year.

An ignition interlock device is a cellphone-sized gadget similar to a Breathalyzer that is hard-wired to the engine’s ignition system. If the person’s BAC exceeds 0.05 percent, the vehicle will not start.

Under current law, first-time offenders convicted of driving with a BAC between 0.08 and 0.10 percent have their licenses suspended for three months. Those with a BAC between 0.10 and 0.15 percent have their licenses suspended for seven months to a year.

The bill did not mention any changes to fines or jail time. Under current law, first-time offenders can be fined anywhere from $250 to $500, depending on BAC level, and can face up to 30 days in jail.

“Our goal with this bill is to create greater safety on the road,” said state Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, a sponsor of the bill. “We know when we suspend licenses, people still get behind the wheel when they had too much to drink.”…(continued)

Example 3:

Nose for News (NY Post – 2/6/15)

Brian Williams came under siege Thursday for lying that enemy fire forced his chopper down in Iraq — with countless critics ridiculing his tall tale and calling for him to be booted as anchor of “NBC Nightly News.”

The $10 million-a-year star was back on the air Thursday night, a day after offering a bizarre mea culpa in which he said he had “conflated” his wartime memories and made “a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago.”Nosefornews

But Williams’ bobbing and weaving did little to stifle the growing controversy over his repeated lies about coming under enemy fire while covering the Iraq war in 2003.

Williams’ return to work capped a day of fast-moving developments for the Peacock Network:

  •  Sources said the mood inside NBC headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Center was “pure panic,” with legendary ex-anchor Tom Brokaw demanding that Williams, his “Nightly News” successor, get the boot. “Brokaw wants Williams’ head on a platter,” one source said.
  •  Williams became the butt of countless jokes for saying on Facebook, “I think the constant viewing of the video showing us inspecting the impact area — and the fog of memory over 12 years — made me conflate the two, and I apologize.” Internet memes quickly spread along with the humiliating Twitter hashtags #BrianWilliamsWarStories and #BrianWilliamsMisremembers.

Doctored photos showed him wading in the surf alongside Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines and eating pizza in Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper.”

  • Stars and Stripes, the unofficial newspaper of the Defense Department, followed up its exposé on Williams’ fabrications with a report alleging he “left out key details and made misleading claims” during his nationwide mea culpa. The paper said Williams’ “wording appeared to be another example of the anchor muddling the facts.”

On Jan. 29, Williams attended a Rangers game at Madison Square Garden with former soldier Tim Terpak, who he said helped protect him in the Iraqi desert. On Friday, “Nightly News” aired a segment on that reunion, in which Williams — for at least the third time — lied and said his aircraft was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, or RPG.

“The story actually started with a terrible moment a dozen years back during the invasion of Iraq when the helicopter we were traveling in was forced down after being hit by an RPG,” Williams said in the report.

“Our traveling NBC News team was rescued, surrounded and kept alive by an armor mechanized platoon from the US Army 3rd Infantry.”

It was not the first time Williams told the story. The first account of the incident took place on the “Nightly News” broadcast of March 26, 2003, which showed video of a damaged Chinook that Williams said was “almost blown out of the sky” while flying in formation ahead of him.

At the time, he said he was unaware of what had happened until after unexpectedly landing in the Iraqi desert.

But over the years, the story gradually morphed into a whopper of a lie. In a 2008 blog post, Williams wrote of the incident, “We came under fire by what appeared to be Iraqi farmers with RPGs and AK-47s.

“The Chinook helicopter flying in front of ours (from the 101st Airborne) took an RPG to the rear rotor, as all four of our low-flying Chinooks took fire,” he added.

And in 2013, almost 10 years to the day after the mission, Williams appeared on “Late Show with David Letterman,” where he embellished the tale to the point where his helicopter was also struck.

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35 Responses to Writing headlines for web and mobile – Spring 15

  1. John Meyers says:

    New Jersey to market products with Turnpike and Parkway Logos

  2. jm0003 says:

    Example 1: Licensing and Capitalizing on NJ Logos

  3. Anonymous says:

    Knock-Off Garden State Products Cause Authorities To License The Turnpike Logo

  4. Anonymous says:

    New Jersey Turnpike & Garden State Parkway Hustle continues with mugs, coin purses & more

  5. wdcoleman12 says:

    New Jersey Turnpike Officials aim to License the use of Logos on Everyday Products

  6. Nina Contento says:

    New Jersey Turnpike and Parkway to Have Their Own Souvenir Shops?

  7. Anonymous says:

    NJ authorities seek copyrights for NJ logos.

  8. Anonymous says:

    New Jersey wants to lower tolls while letting you bring the Turnpike and Parkway with you. Here’s how.

  9. Anonymous says:

    “New Jersey Highway Logos Become Marketable Trademarks On Popular Products”

  10. Anonymous says:

    Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike symbols are being used to sell New Jersey

  11. Anonymous says:

    Jersey Turnpike to Market Their Logo and Sell Products in New Jersey

  12. New Jersey turnpike logo going on a sale hike?

  13. John Meyers says:

    NJ State senate motions to attach BAC-measuring device to offenders’ vehicles

  14. Anonymous says:

    A cellphone-sized breathalyzer on your car’s ignition to prevent drunk driving

  15. Anonymous says:

    “New Gadget That Will Prevent You From Ever Drinking and Driving”

  16. Anonymous says:

    New law makes first time offenders of drinking and driving install breathalyzer in car.

  17. Anonymous says:

    New Bill Brings Harsh Penalties To First Time Drunk Drivers

  18. jm0003 says:

    Example 2: Breathalyzers to be Installed in Car after a DUI

  19. Anonymous says:

    New law calls for a device that prevents cars from starting to be used if a person has a record of drunk driving

  20. Anonymous says:

    Too drunk to drive? Your car might become a Breathalyzer.

  21. Don’t do it : New punishment for drinking and driving

  22. Anonymous says:

    So you wanna drink and drink: The Senate passing bill to make it easier but more expensive to do

  23. wdcoleman12 says:

    DUI? No problem, just make sure it’s not over .10; New law lessens license suspension after drunk driving to 10 days

  24. Anonymous says:

    Going Somewhere? Don’t Forget Your Car Keys and Car Breathalyzer

  25. jm0003 says:

    Example 3: Liar Liar Brian’s Pants Is On Fire

  26. John Meyers says:

    NBC’S Brian Williams caught in escalating lie

  27. Anonymous says:

    News Anchor Brian Williams may get the boot after lying about being attacked in Iraq.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Fallout from Brian Williams’ mis-memory of the Iraq war helicopter story

  29. Anonymous says:

    Brian Williams to suffer consequences for his lies told about his experience in Iraq

  30. Anonymous says:

    Brian Williams’ War Stories Could Get Him the Boot

  31. Anonymous says:

    Brian Williams shoots himself in the foot under heavy enemy fire at war-torn NBC

  32. Anonymous says:

    Lyin’ Brian Williams: This NBC newsanchor’s helicopter might not have caught fire, but now he has

  33. Brian Williams or Will-lie-ams? NBC anchor repeatedly lies about story he covered in Iraq about 12 years ago

  34. Anonymous says:

    Star Anchor of NBC Exaggerated His Claims of War Glory and Gets a Taste of Internet Backlash

  35. Anonymous says:

    Brian Williams: World’s Dumbest & Weathiest Liars

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