How Web and print headlines differ

The most prominent headline on the front page of theunion.com this morning reads:

Life after addiction: Expanded CoRR services, facility pl…

I see this a lot at The Union, the Sierra Sun, Auburn Journal and other local papers. It’s for a failure to recognize that print and Web headlines differ. In this case, the print headline (Life after addiction: Expanded CoRR services, facility planned) got cut off on the Web site.

“Headline writing is perhaps one of the most important and often-incorrectly-executed aspects of blogging and posting news stories online,” as New Media Bytes points out. “The differences between Web and print audiences and headline presentations make headline writing one of the most important jobs of a Web content publisher.”

This is something we learned at CNET a decade ago. Web headlines pop up on external sites through RSS feeds and such, so editors need to be mindful of their look.

It’s just one example of a nuance that needs to be mastered as a result of the changing media landscape to help guide readers.

The background is here.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

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