More on Words that Scare Off Readers

I have another term for my scrapheap of words you don't put in headlines because they scare people away: "sovereign debt."

Sure, the financial world is on pins and needles about which country may be about to default on its bonds and other IOUs, but put "sovereign debt" into a headline and readers' eyes glaze over and mouses move on to a good Olympian slideshow. (My traffic monitoring gizmos tell me so).

That doesn't mean we aren't getting traffic on our coverage: "Greek Crisis" pulls folks in just fine, thank you. Good thing too, because these are important stories with fiscal lessons for all countries. But just because you have an important story people SHOULD read doesn't mean they WILL read it. Many times you have to sprinkle a little headline sugar on it to get readers in ... same thing I do with my kids' oatmeal.

By the same token, though, there are some headline terms have the opposite effect ... they pull readers in ... even when the material itself is somewhat dry. For example, we've had a streak of small interview stories lately featuring different economists or analysts laying our their take on job and growth trends. In most cases fairly technical stuff.

The magic words drawing in readers? "Double Dip."


Ed. Note: Apparently I need to go back to word choice class. Some folks ... okay, these folks ... took "scare" to mean intentionally frightening folks into thinking the bogey man is coming. No. My point is that technical terms in headlines tend to discourage people from reading things they really should. That's all.