Saturday, August 16, 2008


A dead zone for headlines

Hm. Which of these headlines gives a significantly different impression from the others?:

  1. National Public Radio: “Dead Zones” Multiplying In World’s Oceans
  2. Science News: Coastal dead zones expanding
  3. or the New York Times: Rapid Growth Found in Oxygen-Starved Ocean “Dead Zones”

Maybe it’s just me, but I interpreted the Times version as meaning that things were found growing — rapidly — in the dead zones. And if I hadn’t heard the NPR item on the radio yesterday morning, I’d have held that impression and thought it was a good thing (until I read the article, of course).

There’s a simple fix: Rapid Growth Found in Number of Oxygen-Starved Ocean “Dead Zones”

Unfortunately, the headline is already too long to add those two words. I think the headline writer for the Times needs some remedial work.

[The Science News headline’s not quite there either. It implies that the existing dead zones are getting bigger. While that’s also somewhat true, the real point, which they do get in their lede, is that there are more of them. NPR’s the only one that really gets the headline right.]

1 comment:

The Ridger, FCD said...

Well, the Times could have said "of". Or they could have said "Oxygen-Starved Ocean "Dead Zones" Growing Rapidly".

And Science News was an easy fix, too: "Multiplying" instead of "Expanding".

You know, it's really not that hard.