Newspaper headline creates a powerful meaning and interpretation of the whole article. This collection of words sums up the entire story and represents in totality the equally significant lead. A headline intrigues and awakens or grabs a reader’s interest. At the same time, it reinforces the intellectual aspect of the reading public through the rational and logical contentment gained when a reader successfully understands a newspaper headline. A story headline strengthens one’s sense of belonging to his or her community in two ways: first, through the references to one’s own society and nation; and second, through stereotyped representations of other countries and citizens.
News organizations on the internet generally aim to post headlines on the website that will attract and leave an impact to search engine crawlers and internet visitors as much as the regular printed news readers. For this purpose, two negatively-toned or presented news headlines of the same story can have different interpretations and effects on the readers. Such examples are that of the news about the comment of President Bush on the alleged establishment and expansion of U.S. bases in Africa. These are the news from the MSNBC website under the headline: “Bush: U.S. wont build new Africa bases” and the other news article from the Aljazeera website carrying the headline: “Bush denies Africa expansion plan” (MSNBC, 2008 & Aljazeera, 2008).
The MSNBC and Aljazeera news headlines were both stated in a negative manner. The former headline (from MSNBC) was presented as an obvious direct quote, apparently coming straight from the U.S. President. The second headline, on the other hand, appears to have been delivered by a second source, not by President Bush himself. The headline by the Aljazeera news implies that denial is the usual and standard official statement from the White House and not a strong affirmation that the U.S. will definitely not build bases and expand their military power in Africa.
Although the said two headlines are somewhat pessimistic in tone, the MSNBC “direct quote” headline appears to be more effective than the Aljazeera “denial” headline. This is because the headline was written in a straight-forward defense of President Bush that U.S. will not (by using the term “won’t”) build new Africa bases. Readers of today are always in a rush while accessing vast amount of information from thousands of websites. Thus, the MSNBC headline addresses the basic goal of internet news organizations of catching the attention and immediate comprehension of online news readers. The MSNBC headline is even beefed up by what is called the subhead (with the phrases “President dismisses talk…”). This subhead supports and reinforces the main headline which imparts a definite statement that the U.S. is unquestionably not building new U.S. bases in the African continent.
Aljazeera. (2008, February 20). Bush denies Africa expansion plan. Retrieved February 21, 2008, from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23252017/
MSNBC. (2008, February 20). Bush: U.S. won’t build new Africa bases. President dismisses talk of more military bases on continent as ‘baloney’. Retrieved February 21, 2008, from http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/1D97988F-6FFB-4BD0-8C43- C3F8420F79B1.htm.