Saturday, August 17, 2013

Headlines matter, maybe

As a journalist, I wrote my first newspaper headline in 1961 and my last in 2008. I mention this because I have come to think that the headlines on blog-posts make a huge difference. That is the only way I can explain the heavy readership during the last month of the new most popular post at

The headline is "Urgent! Telegram from Gettysburg." It is an old post. The only way I can explain its surge since June is that the words "Urgent!" and "Gettysburg" attract readers.

But maybe I'm wrong about the importance of headlines. Another recent riser is "Exeter's Civil War General." This is a "label head," as journalists would say. Newspapers discourage label heads -- or at least I always did as an editor -- because they lack the pizzazz of headlines with verbs (e.g., FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD).

Here are the top ten posts as of mid-August. The numbers in brackets indicate where these posts stood a month ago. Those in parentheses indicate how many months the posts have been in the top ten. FYI, readership for these posts ranks from 140 to 350.

2. Farewell, my teacher [1] (3)

8. My friend Chester [5] (6)

10. History’s touch [10] (4)

And the next five . . .

Also popular during the last month:

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