This headline doesn’t describe this story! OR DOES IT? BoiseDev’s pledge for better headlines


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Headlines are tricky, funny things.

They are the gateway into a story for many readers. The quick “is this interesting to me?” indicator that can make the difference between reading, or not.

The story headline often has to carry a lot of weight: as a title, as a search engine optimization indicator and yes, as marketing. They also have to be short enough for Google and Facebook and Twitter to like.

I’ve been concerned in recent months and years about the change from headlines as description to headlines as marketing. The community of BoiseDev FIRST members and our general readership are this site’s North Star. It is our goal to produce journalism in your interest.

And yes, I’ve been guilty at times.

In January, I wrote a story about Magnificent Garden and its long-percolating attempt to open on Milwaukee in Boise.

The headline I wrote: “That big Korean BBQ restaurant hoped to open in 2018. Here’s what happened

In hindsight, “Korean BBQ restaurant near Boise’s mall still isn’t open, but could be soon” might have been better.

Going forward, I’m making a pledge: will work to put its thumb on the scale of descriptiveness over clickbait. I won’t get it right every time, and you might question my choices.

Yesterday, I published a story on the 951 Front apartments with the headline “What’s up with the work on that new Boise apartment building?” This, paired with a photo of the building, is evocative of the content and sums up what I hope to answer for people. I wouldn’t consider this clickbait because the story answers the question it poses. Another story from yesterday is even more descriptive: “Updated NW Boise subdivision looks for approval again; neighbors still concerned.”

I’ve been taken aback by headlines I see elsewhere, and it’s my goal to not contribute to the problem.

If you see a headline you don’t think holds up – I welcome your feedback. I’m [email protected].

(And you can become a member of BoiseDev FIRST – details here).

Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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