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‘National Enquirer’ executive editor on the art of writing a killer headline




One of the most famous headlines of all time -
One of the most famous headlines of all time - "Headless Body in Topless Bar"
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One of the most famous headlines of all time -
"Sex...Fires & 'Punch in the Nose'"
Timmy Gunz/Flickr
One of the most famous headlines of all time -
A headline that missed the distinction - "Atomic Bombers Criticize Enola Homosexual Exhibit"
One of the most famous headlines of all time -
A headline gone too long - "Woman in Sumo Wrestler Suit Assaulted Her Ex-Girlfriend in Gay Pub after She Waved at Man Dressed as a Snickers Bar"
One of the most famous headlines of all time -
A headline that shows less is not always more - "Colleagues Finger Billionaire"
One of the most famous headlines of all time -
A headline that shows sometimes you get it just right - "The Science of Taste and the Curry-ous Reason Behind Why Indian Food Tastes So Good"


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The man behind what some have called the greatest newspaper headline ever has died. He was 74.

Vincent Musetto was a longtime news editor and film critic at the New York Post, where he cranked out countless headlines and pieces.

But five words stood out, which Musetto penned to encapsulate the gruesome murder of a bar owner in Queens. “Headless Body in Topless Bar” screamed the front page headline of  the April 15, 1983 edition of the New York Post.

Nodding to those iconic words, AirTalk looks at the art of crafting a snappy newspaper headline. What makes a great headline? How has that changed in the age of search engine optimization and social media?

Guests:

Barry Levine, executive editor and director of news of the National Enquirer

Roy Peter Clark, Vice President and Senior Scholar, Reporting, Writing & Editing Faculty at Poynter Institute for Media Studies. He is the writer of a number of books on writing. His latest is “How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times” (Little, Brown and Company, 2014)”

Eric Zassenhaus, Assistant Managing Editor of digital content at KPCC