One Headline To Rule Them All

News publications each have their own voice, style and structure. Their own unique means of passing information on to their readership. The Sun (UK), for example, provides a lowdown of all things sport, showbiz, lifestyle and gossip. They often rely on eye-catching ‘kickers’ to hook readers in, not holding back on the more explicit stories, flashy article headlines, with a lot of melodrama thrown in too. The pinnacle of all things tabloid.

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mohamed_hassan / Pixabay

 

In contrast, The Independent (UK) is largely regarded as a more ‘intellectual alternative’. Once a broadsheet, this newspaper covers culture, sport, politics and general news.

[REITs]

Q3 hedge fund letters, conference, scoops etc

And so comes the question – is it possible to epitomise a news publication using a single headline?

Doxdirect, an online printing company, were intrigued by this question, so launched a thorough investigation which involved analysing over 100,000 article pages of various UK news publications in order to discover which words/topics appear the most in their article headlines, subheadings, kickers and captions. Doing this would shed some light on the stories these publications cover the most – is The Sun preoccupied with sex? Is The Independent as overtly ‘intellectual’ as people believe?

The final list of publications we prepped for analysis were the following, covering a range of different online formats:

  • Business Insider [website]
  • Cosmopolitan [magazine]
  • Daily Mail [tabloid]
  • The Guardian [newspaper]
  • The Independent [newspaper]
  • The Sun [tabloid]

Of course, as not every publication followed the same structure, the static on-page elements we analysed had to change between articles. For this reason, we analysed the headline and subheading on The Independent, the headline and caption for Business Insider, and so on and so forth.

The initial word lists we received were inundated with fundamental prepositions, pronouns and conjunctions (the, to, in, and, a, I, if etc.). After filtering through these, we had a finalised list of the most frequently used nouns in each publication’s article headlines.

For example – the top 15 (unique) words used in The Sun’s article headlines (along with how many times they appear) are as follows:

new: 5,498

star: 3,919

reveals: 3,220

love: 2,328

world: 2,325

first: 2,312

one: 2,224

time: 2,191

fans: 2,186

show: 2,093

says: 2,018

sex: 1,914

England: 1,766

Manchester: 1,733

day: 1,727

And to finish, we weaved words from this list into a headline and used images, article snippets and other page elements to frame everything into a story.

We had, quite literally, created a headline that epitomised The Sun:

Former sex star will reveal ALL during Manchester show, a world first for fans

sex: 1,914

star: 3,919

reveals: 3,220

Manchester: 1,733

show: 2,093

world: 2,325

first: 2,312

fans: 2,186

The stories we’ve created are not only fun, but also showcase which people, objects, events and places crop up the most in each publication’s articles, including adjectives that the publication likes to use the most.

For example, we found that The Independent often used the terms ‘attack’ and ‘warn’. Regardless of context, these words would certainly impact readers. In contrast, some of the most frequently used words in Daily Mail headlines were ‘world’, ‘home’ and ‘love’, which paints a completely different story.

See the articles below for more interesting insights!

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About the Author

Jacob Wolinsky
Jacob Wolinsky is the founder of ValueWalk.com, a popular value investing and hedge fund focused investment website. Prior to ValueWalk, Jacob was VP of Business Development at SumZero. Prior to SumZero, Jacob worked as an equity analyst first at a micro-cap focused private equity firm, followed by a stint at a smid cap focused research shop. Jacob lives with his wife and four kids in Passaic NJ. - Email: jacob(at)valuewalk.com - Twitter username: JacobWolinsky - Full Disclosure: I do not purchase any equities anymore to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest and because at times I may receive grey areas of insider information. I have a few existing holdings from years ago, but I have sold off most of the equities and now only purchase mutual funds and some ETFs. I also own a few grams of Gold and Silver