Thursday, January 31, 2008

headline questions

Have you noticed that more and more news headlines are posed in the form of a question?

I remember my Journalism 101 class, and the importance of the "attention-grabbing" function of the headline. These days, however, attention-grabbing has turned into "engagement-seeking". Everything is interactional these days. News isn't news - it's a guessing game!

Guess who won the Florida primary?

Guess who's back in hospital, being observed 'mentally', after "bizarre behavior"?

Guess who died? Who wrecked? Who lied? Who made a fool of him - or her - self?

I usually refuse to read "articles" like that, just out of principle. I resent being dragged in by idle curiosity. Today, however - on AOL - I bit on the headline for this article, the headline for which was "Why did Feb. 17 Make the List?[of days you shouldn't travel]".

As I'm traveling on Feb. 17 - this was information I clearly needed to know. I clicked on, only to be referred to yet another article which supposedly would enlighten me. It took me a while, but I finally found it - buried in the middle of an otherwise unastonishing - and, frankly, uninteresting - article. Why shouldn't I travel on Feb 17? Here it is, quote-unquote:
The 50th running of the Daytona 500 takes place Feb. 17th. I don’t even live in Daytona Beach, Fla. (I’m in Orlando) and I’m thinking of getting out of town. Don’t even think about renting a car — they’re taken that weekend. And stay away from the Orlando theme parks, unless your idea of family fun is to stand in a long line with a lot of rowdy NASCAR fans.
Here I thought we might be dealing with some universal wisdom applicable universally - like, maybe, Feb. 17 is the day all airplane wheels fall off, or when the refuelers 'short' the jets on fuel just to piss off the pilots, or the day all the new air traffic controllers control traffic without supervision, or something like that, or meteor showers, or SOMEthing. . . .

But no. It's the DAYTONA far-reaching 500. whoop.

So! Don't go outside. You might get run over.

Luckily, I'm only going to Ireland. . . . . I might be safe. Maybe.

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