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ARTICLE: BBC TV news headlines serve as “trailers”

BBC East - Norwich - sign by Elliott Brown, licence CC BY 2.0

The news headlines used in BBC’s flagship news program, BBC News at Ten, are designed not only to summarize, but also to stoke interest, write Martin Montgomery, of University of Macau, and Debing Feng, of Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics.

The authors closely analysed ten episodes of BBC News at Ten collected in early 2012 and 2013. The headlines, read in separate segments before and during the news bulletins, were found to take different forms and serve different purposes than headlines in printed news.

Some of the differencies can be explained through the fact that TV news headlines are meant to be read by the news anchor rather than read by the audience. Some differences, however, are explained by different functions: Print headlines are informative in order to help readers select which stories to read, but TV headlines need to entice the audience to keep viewing as story-specific selection is impractical, the authors write.

The article “‘Coming up next’: The discourse of television news headlines” was published by the journal Discourse & Communication. It is available online (abstract free).

Picture: BBC East – Norwich – sign by Elliott Brown, licence CC BY 2.0.

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