Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Bland Titles

Don't hate us for asking this, but why is it that some of the most interesting video stories have the most boring titles?

In an apparent effort to sound weighty and grandiose, they often end up sounding, well, meaningless.

Look at this random sampling of titles of video stories that we're otherwise proud to showcase on KobreGuide, and you'll see what we mean:

Great Responsibility, Looking Back, A Life Alone, Chain of Life, A Meaningful New Mission, Stories to Learn By, A Fighting Chance, Guitar Man, Science Homework, Part of the Family, Campaign, A Place to Call Home, Wait for Me, Popular Science, A Man's World, A World of Words, A Dirty Job, Left Behind, Hard Times, Unusual Friendship, Remember Me, Age of Uncertainty, The Bottom Line, Uprooted, A New Dawn, Friends for Life, Common Ground, Breaking the Silence, Rapid Descent, Black Market, Blind Ambition, Learning to Fall, Last Goodbye...

Again, the stories themselves are terrific. But their titles? Big yawn!

We suspect that a lot of the problem has to do with the fact that the newspapers' regular headline writers, schooled and seasoned in marrying colorful nouns with muscular verbs, aren't assigned the task of titling videos. And so they're just given short descriptive labels by the videojournalists themselves, who are traditionally more visual than verbal.

Compounding the problem is that the title you see chyroned at the beginning of the video ("A Doctor's Tale") frequently does not match the title adjacent to the video player ("A Medical Marvel"). And they vie with each other for awfulness.

Another common syndrome is that many video titles can't be appreciated, or sometimes even understood, until after you've seen the video! (Which you're not likely to see, because the title is offputtingly cryptic!)

We realize that, in a newspaper's quest for dispassionate objectivity, there is a proclivity for taking the "just the facts, ma'am" approach to writing titles.

But don't newspaper editors realize that a catchy or intriguing title can entice a potential viewer to click the "Play" button, and thereby exponentially increase the size of a video's audience? Whereas lackluster titles can be a potent eyeball deterrent?

We cast our vote for assigning the task of video title writing to the same folks who are charged with writing Page One grabbers. The best videos -- like those spotlighted on KobreGuide -- deserve nothing less.

After all, if you're going to spend days, or even weeks, shooting and editing a top-notch video, why not put a few more minutes of thought and effort into naming your baby before sending it out into the world?

Seen a really clever or compelling video title lately? Please share it with us. Quick, before we doze off again...

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