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Headline Writing 101 with the Daily Express: Antonio Conte and the life "unhappy" in London

Reporting live from inside the semi-opaque glass house...

Browsing NewsNow as I normally do, I come across this live grenade of a headline:  "Antonio Conte delivers worrying message to Chelsea: I am not happy in London"


express headline

Having been exposed to far too much sensationalism, clickbait, and just flat-out misleading headlines — and we're not talking about things like my worst offense (I believe) of equating a journalist for someone else's mouthpiece, to be clear, when talking about misleading headlines — I wasn't ready to panic just yet.  Maybe he's just missing his family, right?  He's talked about that before, about how they've stayed back in Italy (they visit for games) so he could immerse himself in the job and then eventually they might follow should this gig turn into something long-term (we only hope!).

So maybe it was just that, right?  Nope.  Turns out it's far less.

"For me it is a bit difficult now to enjoy London as usually when you arrive in a new club it is important to put the job and my staff above all else in this first period"

"For this reason I am enjoying only a little of London. I hope in the future to explore London better, but for now I prefer to be concentrated on the work."

-Antonio Conte; source: Express

Conte, in the quotes taken from his big interview with the Chelsea official website, clearly means "enjoying" in terms of visiting and experiencing all that London has to offer rather than the actual emotion of being really happy.  He's not "enjoying" London because he's so dedicated to his actual job at Chelsea that he's got no time to explore the city and take in some of the touristy sights. That's basically the complete opposite (dedication to Chelsea vs. unhappiness at Chelsea) of what the headline intonates!

The only thing more worrying about all of this is that what the Express headline writers are doing is simply par for the course nowadays.  And this is the second top story of the day!  This nothing story, this absolute fluff, this ridiculous waste of time.  And what's worse, it's often forcing our hand at writing vague or at least vague-ish headlines.  Gotta get them clickzzzzzz, mayn.  There's no blog without clicks!

I had long assumed that eventually this would weed itself out, that users would learn to not click and follow the obvious bait.  But seeing as how it's the same culprits every time atop the NewsNow pile (and it's not limited to that aggregator), I'm constantly being proven wrong.

And if you think that's bad, check out the top story of the day.  "Hazard: I always knew I would not stay at Chelsea"

thorgan hazard headline

That's Thorgan Hazard of course — we covered that story as well — but why clarify that (it would've taken literally one letter!) when you can leave it so intentionally vague that it completely misrepresents what the quotes, the context, and the intent may be behind the actual headline?


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