Here’s how my employer’s news aggregator is presenting the local news today. As you can see, most of the headlines from The Chapel Hill News are more cryptic than informative. That’s because they’ve been stripped of their context: no photos, no dropheads, no labels saying what section of the paper these stories came from.
This isn’t the fault of the aggregator. It needs a human touch to help it live up to its potential. To do that, the paper should consider rewriting these headlines for the Web to make them more literal. Using proper nouns (think in terms of key words) would help. The stories would make more sense in this sort of presentation and also be more likely to pop up at the top of a Google search.
Writing different headlines for print and online isn’t necessary for every story. Yes, it creates more work for the headline writer, but that extra effort is often worth it. It all adds up to another example of how the skills of a copy editors are just important online as in print, if not more so.