OLD Media Moves

Infamous Bloomberg headlines could be changing

September 3, 2013

Posted by Chris Roush

Zach Seward of Quartz writes about how Bloomberg‘s sometimes inscrutable headlines could changing after the report from reviewer Clark Hoyt noted they needed improving.

Seward writes, “Most news organizations adopt headline conventions that, over time, become institutional clichés. (The New York Times: In Starting With a Prepositional Phrase, a Way to Sound Intelligent. Business Insider: BOOM: Here Is Something Extraordinarily Mundane. Quartz: Why everything you ever believed is a lie, in charts.) Other headlinese words — mull, see, probe, nix — are artifacts of space constraints imposed by narrow newspaper columns.

“Space may also have something to do with how Bloomberg headlines got to be so odd. They are limited to 63 characters (45% of a tweet) to ensure the entire headline can fit on a single line of the terminal, which is the primary context in which Bloomberg News articles are read. ‘Billionaire Dethrones Kings in Beer to Burgers as Batista Model,’ the headline on a profile of a Brazilian private-equity baron, ran exactly 63 characters and probably seemed more legible in the terminal than when the article found its way to the web. Much of Bloomberg’s journalism makes less sense as it gets further away from the terminal.

“Inscrutability can also be a ploy for clicks. Bloomberg headlines like ‘Bieber Joins Ex-Addicts Fighting Chase in Prepaid Market’ are often just intriguing enough to find out what the hell they mean. Certain terms alluring to Bloomberg’s clientele will find their way to the top of articles that are really about something else, as in this ur-headline (63 characters long): ‘Steve Jobs Spurs Harvard MBA to Drop McKinsey for China Website.’

“Hoyt observed that Goldman Sachs makes regular appearances in Bloomberg headlines that have nothing to do with the bank: “The most egregious, ‘Ex-Goldmanite Trades on Girl Power of Stiletto Networks: Review,’ was over the review of a book by an author last connected with Goldman 11 years ago as a low-ranking associate.”

Read more here.

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