The importance of headlines

One of the neat things things you can easily do with FeedDemon, the desktop RSS aggregator for Windows, is note items of interest in the various feeds you monitor and quickly mark them for later action such as blogging. This is especially useful if you want to create a link post, as many business bloggers already do.

To get the links for your post in FD, what you do is drag-and-drop items from the various RSS feeds into a news bin as a place to concentrate items for your later reference. I do this a lot in FD as items catch my interest which I may blog about. Once you apply the right view to the items in the news bin, using a special newspaper style for this purpose, it works a treat for a quick headlines or links post, like this one:

For this to be even halfway effective, a good headline is an absolute necessity, both from my point of view (to decide whether to include in a news bin) and from yours as a reader of this post to see if the headline gives you a sufficient enough clue as to what the story’s about with no further description.

So does this post work?

6 thoughts on “The importance of headlines

  1. Sure Neville – but that only really works for the blogs you have lined up in FeedDemon…doesn’t it? Wouldn’t it be better to have a combination of what FeedDemon offers i.e. a general way of following specific blogs (and whatever they’re linking to) + a dedicated aggregator for issues you’re interested in following? (Or something like that)Either way, there is a compromise. This is important because ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ yet there is the tantalizing prospect of overcoming that with the current combination of tools at our disposal.
    So compared with the past where you might say: “I only read the FT+Economist because they’re my trusted sources of information”, now you really do need links to which you can hook, but are still constrained inside FeedDemon.

  2. G’day Neville,
    I’ve already blogged about the Microsoft story, courtesy of Stuart Bruce. I’ve now changed my rss button on my blog and website to ‘web feed’.

  3. This is the exact problem I run into when scanning my feeds everyday. I notice that professional news organizations (eg. BBC News, NYT) are far better in producing headlines than most bloggers are. Maybe a news story can be captured more easily in a headline than an op-ed piece (what most blog posts are).
    However, I recommend bloggers to pay some attention to headlines. In the process of writing a blog post, typically, you first write the headline and then the story. It should be the other way around; try to capture the story in one line after writing the post.
    I once called bad headlines the weakness of RSS (in dutch unfortunately)

  4. Interesting comment, Dennis. I don’t see FD constraining anything. Yes, it will only have content from the RSS feeds I’ve subscribed to – and not just blogs.
    But those are the feeds that I want! Some of those feeds (especially media sites and news wires) enable me to aggregate info from hundreds of other sources as well without signing up for hundreds of additional feeds.
    Good points, Rutger. I usually need to have a headline in my mind before I start writing. More often than not, though, the actual headline I’ll end up with emerges as I write.
    Richard, I’m still with FD 1.5 at the moment. Main reason is that I have a new PC and haven’t yet installed the latest beta which I will do. There are some issues judging by some posts in the beta support forum. I experienced quite a few with beta 1 when I had that running on my other PC. These are betas, don’t forget!

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