Headlines Matter

Ken Segall, in a preface to a post headlined “Has Apple Lost Its Simplicity?”:

Last week, I wrote an article for The Guardian with the above title. It was a question, not a conclusion, and I tried to offer a thoughtful opinion. Sadly, The Guardian chose to give it a bait-click headline that contradicted my point of view. So, for the record, here is the complete article as originally intended.

The Guardian’s headline: “How Apple Lost Its Way: Steve Jobs’ Love of Simplicity Is Gone”. If you read Segall’s article, you can see that it isn’t apt at all. Everyone knows what clickbait is, but even though we, collectively, are aware of it and presumably attempt to defend against it by not taking headlines at face value, it’s really amazing how much a provocative headline can affect the interpretation of a non-provocative article. I don’t do much writing for other publications these days, but at this point I would insist on approval over the headline.

I think Marco Arment did this to himself with this piece a few weeks ago. His original headline was “Avoiding BlackBerry’s Fate”; within a day he changed it to “If Google’s Right About AI, That’s a Problem for Apple”. Simply by changing the headline, he seemed to drastically change readers’ interpretation of his argument.

Monday, 6 June 2016