IT’S GOOD TO SEE that many newspapers now have a practice where reporters are writing suggested headlines for their stories. This helps the reporter focus on the point of his story and it helps a hurried editor write a headline that’s on the mark.
Most of the time, though, the reporter has no idea how his headline is going to be used—much less where the story itself will be placed.
So often the reporter writes a headline that’s just too long, too wordy, like the one at the top in the illustration above.
Most often, the editor can use most of the reporter’s headline (middle) but occasionally the headline has to be much larger (bottom). When that happens, the editor just has to do the best she can, rewriting the headline to match the play of the story.
Hint to reporters: Continue to give us what you can as headlines, but don’t be concerned if the headline takes a different (briefer) direction.
Hint to editors: Remember that your job is to write a headline that works, not just take what the reporter gave you and make it fit.