Notice any difference in the headlines written by Digital First Media’s Thunderdome staff recently? A couple months ago, Thunderdome began experimenting with a 5-minute meeting intended to improve headline writing throughout the newsroom.
The weekly headline contest
The meeting’s big draw is a contest for the best headline of the week. By ‘best’ we’re specifically looking for a headline that would play well on social media — something that compels a click. This is an art no one’s quite figured out, I think, and also doesn’t usually have much in common with our other strategy: SEO.
How the contest is judged
A panel of anonymous judges — they don’t even know who the other judges are — votes from a list of the top five headlines to select the best. Their instructions are simple: We want to reward headlines that are clicky and shareable. Choose the headline you’d be most likely to click on.
Before the contest
Each meeting kicks off with a style note. It’s space to highlight persistent mistakes or offer tips, and in a manner breaks the mold of the easily-ignored email.
After the contest
We have been emailing the results of the contest and the weekly style tip internally, but decided to move the follow-up to here on Inside Thunderdome where we can share the process with the rest of Digital First Media and beyond. It’s a good opportunity to let others see what we’re working on to improve our efforts, and how we’re trying to do that.
Here are this week’s results and recap:
THING TO KNOW THIS WEEK
When dealing with money in headlines, only use the abbreviations M (million), K (thousand), as a last resort for space considerations.
You won’t believe what this 6th grader is sending into space - by Jillian Sederholm
- Watch the toughest 2 points ever scored in football - by Matt Walks
- How America cultivated a generation of obesity - by Dan Lewis
- Just try not to ‘aww’ at this newborn white lion cub - by Aaron Edwards
- Watch this supercut of MLB players dancing - by Jeremy Binckes
Karen Workman will share the results of Thunderdome’s headline contest and the style tip each week right here on Inside Thunderdome.