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SEX. The Art of the Headline

After collecting a list of headlines that jumped out at me over a 5 month period I was left asking myself why it was that I chose each news story. Where my choices simply a fair reflection of things that I am interested in? I hope not, as rape, murder and war would be cemented on my list of interests. Perhaps we are hard wired to react to words that are unfamiliar to our day to day lifestyle? In this publication I will explore the art of the headline, including why we may react to some more than others.


fter gathering all of my headlines I began to look at patterns and tried to see if there were any trends in the type of news that I was drawn to. I chose : Negative: 18 Drugs: 1 Violent crime: 3 Positive: 0 Deaths: 6 Political: 1 Financial: 1 Disaster: 1 Education: 1



ut of the 22 headlines that I selected, 7 of them contained the word ‘attack’. This most definitely is something that I don’t witness on a day to day basis, so that would support my theory of being intruiged by the unknown and abnormal. The headlines included the following forms of attacks : Machete attack Chemical attack Arson attack Killer attacked Revenge Attacks

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How does curiosity help us engage quicker with a headline? Curiosity is one the strongest techniques to entise an audience to a headline. This goes with every aspect of day to day life, if something disturbs the norm we are automatically intruiged by this particular object or event.

Downloads for 3D-printed Liberator gun reach 100,000 | 9th May 2013 - BBC NEWS

Will we ever want to have sex with robots? | 27th Aug 2013 - BBC NEWS

Earth Life ‘may have come from Mars’ | 29th Aug 2013 - BBC NEWS

CURIo sit y grabs your attention and pulls you in.

self interest

By making a headline more personal does this allow us to become more intruiged? Self interest is a bonus and can only be controlled by appropriating the correct target audience correctly. We are much more likely to read something if it is something that we can relate to or show a genuine interest in. For example, a news story printed in the UK about a rise in tax prices in America would barely stand out in a paper. Where as a headline printed in the UK about a tax rise in the UK would no doubt raise double the interest.

The that

Self interest is an excellent way to engage people in a headline.

There is also another type of self interest headline which is found more commonly in magazines and online articles. In which the technique simply tells you exactly what you will get out of reading the article e.g. ‘The pill that will save your life’.

pill will

save Your Life!



t’s important to include new and exciting information in a headline. The general rule of thumb is, if we’ve seen it a thousand times we are not interested. We watch the news to find out about current issues, we don’t expect to hear about things that have happened in the past. Therefore it is important to advertise what is new and exciting about the story with in the actual headline. This could be anything from a new name to a new extreme event.



brain Grown in lab. 28th Aug | BBC News

Straight to the point


y getting straight to the point in a headline, you can shock the reader maximising their interest and engagement. We are emotional beings and react differently to certain things. While a headline might anger one person and upset another it will still engage both people successfully.

Machete attack

family die chemical attack

military strike


liberator gun


o conclude, because you react to these harsh, to the point headlines it does not mean that these things are interesting to you. They are simply occurances that are not found in your day to day life. Each headline is carefully structured to entise the reader as easily as possible. After reading each minor technique that is used, you do begin to see patterns forming in the carefully structured headline where prior to this knowledge we percieve as a simple summary of an article.

An exploration of how we individually react to specific headlines and how the media may use this to make news of interest to as many people as possible.

The art of the headline