Headline Nonsense

Moving away from Jamie Whyte article and the inevitable Christian wackeroony response, points me towards something that annoys me just as much as the blatant idiocy of the religious.

Once upon a time, the BBC was a bastion of the English language and a resource you could look on as “reliable and trustworthy.” At some point in the recent past, all this changed. Things have been bad for a while and lately they have reached a new low in the erratic, random, headlines they use for articles. On the whole, you wouldn’t care what the headline is, as you can read the article to find out more – however on the Internet the title is the link. It is what you see as a hook to read the article and (sadly) is often all people will read thinking they can get the news one sentence at a time. Sadly, in this task the BBC fails massively.

Take these examples from todays news articles. Have a look and see what you think the article is going to say, then visit the news item and see if it matches:

  • Fewer teachers aim for principals (link)
  • Brown makes justice deadline call (link)
  • England ‘most crowded in Europe’ (link)
  • Boys jailed for tram stop killing (link)
  • Cancer woman stranded by XL (link)
  • Review ordered into cancer move (link)
  • Man tells police of woman’s body (link)
  • Father’s rape quash bid rejected (link)

Now, admittedly, some may be easier to work out than others and for most you can get a good idea after a few moments thinking about what they are trying to say.

But that is my point.

These are headlines so desperate to get keywords in (and possibly do a bit of SEO for the BBC) that they sacrifice readability and legibility.

Why on Earth has the BBC stooped this low? Are people in the UK so ignorant, uneducated and time-short that they need this sort of nonsense?

8 thoughts on “Headline Nonsense

  1. Another good one:

    Armed guards held XL victim

    Although the BBC seems to have had a change of heart and adjusted it to read:

    Armed guards held airline victim

    Neither really explain the story.

  2. Andrew – thanks for the heads up, the link should be fixed now.

    Great minds must think alike 🙂 I emailed heather about the Michael Stone headline and we were thinking of blogging the weird system the BBC seem to have for their headlines.

    As far as I can tell the rule is the headline must be five words. Six are allowed in unusual circumstances, as long as one is very, very short. The only way less than five can be used is if the words are long, complicated or have lots of syllables then four is allowed – but no less.

    The BBC is the spearhead of madness.

  3. It seems they realise the madness of the headlines, and try to change them. However, the inherent tabloid nature of the New BBC means they cant actually make them any better…

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