Tuesday 2 December 2008

Why 'Gotcha!' ain't got it as a web headline

Interesting piece in the British Journalism Review by Shane Richmond, the communities editor of Telegraph.co.uk, about how search engine optimisation (SEO) requires headlines on the web to be straighter and more factual than in newspapers. He says of the famous/infamous Sun headline 'Gotcha', over the sinking of the Belgrano in the Falklands War, "no web producer with any experience would consider a headline like that today."
Historical note: The Sun's journalists were on strike over pay when the paper published its most famous headline. It was being put together by editor Kelvin MacKenzie and a handful of executives. Roy Greenslade, one of the executives, remembers: "A news agency reported that the General Belgrano had been hit. Wendy Henry shouted "Gotcha!", not as a suggested headline but as a spontaneous reaction, the kind of black joke common to every newspaper office. MacKenzie seized on it and designed a front page which said: "GOTCHA. Our lads sink gunboat and hole cruiser."
The article left me wondering if SEO means my favourite headline 'Man Battered in Fish Shop' is a thing of the past.

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