‘Headless Body in Topless Bar’ provides help on headline writing

By Jonathan Black

“Headless Body in Topless Bar” proved to be as interesting of a session as the name would suggest.

It focused on how to create effective headlines by showing the audience effective and awful headlines from “The New York Post,” “The New York Times” and “the “Staten Island Advance,” which was the paper of the speaker, Claire Regan.

Regan, at first, reviewed the four main functions of headlines: summarize story contents, prioritize stories, entice readers into the text and anchor story designs to help organize the page.

She covered a wide range of helpful tips but the point that she reiterated the most was the use of moderation. Never overuse puns, alliterations, clichés etc.; try to use them only once per issue. Regan also stressed the issue of avoiding redundancy.

For example, she had a headline in her paper which said, “Heavy rain causes flooding.” Everyone knows that heavy rain correlates to that and she showed an improved example of that headline which said, “On Foch Avenue, it’s Irene all over again.”

Regan offered one last piece of advice to the audience; to look at the headlines of “The New York Times,” she said they have the best in the world.


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