Tao-Hua Wang, Hao-Chiang Lin, Ting-Ting Wu, Meng-Shain OU, Hong-Da Wang
Writing news headlines requires ensuring that not only the essence of a news story is accurately captured but that the headline attracts its audiences. With the rapid circulation of information on the Internet, headlines designed to elicit emotions have replaced conventional headlines to attract "clicks." In this study, a crawler was used to obtain approximately 4,000 news headlines published within a given month from a popular news website in Taiwan. Word segmentation was subsequently conducted through Jieba, and high-frequency headline words were placed on a list. Ten headlines from five umbrella themes (i.e., headlines news, entertainment news, world news, sports news, and lifestyle supplements) were then selected, and 90 readers from different age groups were invited to label the headlines according to the sentiment evoked. The quantitative results suggested that headlines that elicited happiness and surprise captured the attention of the majority of the participants.
Interviews conducted through the lens of grounded theory suggested that most participants reported overall limited attention to the content of headlines, because they tend to be hyperbolic or misleading. Moreover, the participants prioritized themes of interest over their emotional responses when selecting headlines. They also remarked that emotion- and curiosity-inducing news titles, written primarily to attract clicks, involve commercial intentions because numerous ads are embedded in the news articles, whose visibility depends on their click-through rates.