Poynter thinks so. Sara Quinn, who is on the faculty there, says asking a question is a way to make a headline more engaging. My supervisors during my News & Observer days had other ideas. The directive there was to avoid question headlines — we should tell, not ask.
I asked award-winning headline writer Jim Thomsen what he thought of question headlines. He is a copy editor at The Kitsap Sun in Washington state and a board member at the American Copy Editors Society. (Thomsen also blogs.) Here is his response via Facebook:
As we look for new ways to invite readers to buy our newspapers and read our Web sites, I think we need to embrace new ways to bring them into the conversations that newspapers should be inspiring.
And what better way to start a conversation than to ask a question? It got me to realizing that most stories I read prompt more questions than they answer.
And that, I think is the nature of news: Every newspaper, every day, predominantly publishes stories about people considering something, investigating something, studying something, about to make a decision on something.
Rarely are stories so factually black-and-white as to anticipate and answer every question a reader would reasonably have.
Why not write headlines that reflect that?
Thomsen makes a compelling case. What do you think?