Monday, July 23, 2007

Headlines Headlines

I went outside today to get our two daily newspapers. As usual, Bella, our year-old Golden retriever, went to retrieve The Star (we taught her to retrieve The Star when she was just a pup, taking the reins from our beloved, now-deceased Golden retriever Bixby) and I went to grab the L.A. Times. Surprise! When we unfolded what we thought was the L.A. Times, we found that it was the New York Times. We're still not sure how that happened, but I did take the time to look at the paper.

I found something interesting. When I went to the jump page of a story, I saw that the headline on the jump page said virtually the same thing as the headline on the cover.
Here are some examples:
Cover of The Arts section:
Down by the Boardwalk, a Two-Ring Circus of Bands
Jump head:
of Bands
A1 head:
An Unlikely Adversary Arises
To Criticize Detainee Hearings
Jump head:
An Unlikely Adversary Arises to Criticize Hearings
Business Day cover:
Barbie Gets Another Accessory: an MP3 Player and More Stuff on Her Web Site
Jump head:
Barbie Gets Another Accessory: an MP3 Player and More Stuff on Web Site
Business Day cover:
Oops! ... They Did It Again
Defying Expectations, a Teen Pop Label Grows Up
Jump head:
Defying the Expectations of Critics and Rivals, a Teen Pop Label Grows Up

I don't know how long they've been doing this, but I began to wonder why they decided to do this. I came up with two possible reasons:

1. It's easier for the reader to find the jump of a story.
2. It's easier and quicker for the copy editor to duplicate the headline on the jump page.

If these are the reasons why they duplicate headlines, I'd say that both the reader and the copy editor benefit.

In these days when we are doing more with fewer people, is this something we'd want to consider? If the idea would be something that would make copy editors' jobs easier and more efficient but would negatively affect the reader, it wouldn't be worth considering. But when we are making things better for the reader while at the same time helping ourselves, why not consider it?

What do you think?