Back in the day, "drunks with cigars wrote stories," overeducated wiseguys slapped snappy headlines on them, and some hours later, a newspaper appeared on your doorstep. In Internet time, that printed birdcage liner might as well be carved on stone tablets. "Call me a grumpy old codger," two-time Pulitzer winner Gene Weingarten writes for the Washington Post—don't worry, we will—"but I liked the old way better."
Weingarten saves his bitterest tears for the fate of headlines like "BETTER NEVER THAN LATE," about the saga of Conan O'Brien and Jay Leno, and "KISS YOUR ASTEROID GOODBYE." Web headlines don't need to be clever because they "aren't designed to catch readers' eyes. They are designed for 'search engine optimization,'" Weingarten explains. "Putting well-known names in headlines is considered shrewd, even if creativity suffers." Point taken.