After Yesterday's Bad Headlines, Signs of Hope

by martin grüner larsen

The NYTimes.com headline size deflated today after yesterday reaching record highs not seen since the beginning of the Iraq war. At the height of yesterday's financial panic, the headline – "BAILOUT VOTE FAILS; STOCKS PLUMMET" – was in 24 pt bolded all-caps and was phrased in only five words with a single, impeccably placed semicolon separating them.

This morning, hoping to avoid panic in the market and the impression that things were going very bad indeed, the NYTimes.com headline dropped just over 6 pts in font size. Experts also noted that the unusual-for-the-web 3-column banner headline was no longer in all caps. Other positive indicators were that it contained 100 % more words than yesterday, and had migrated from semicolon territory to a comma. This permitted the headline to go from yesterday's pithy statement of the blunt and terrifying facts to the strange, subject-less, passive, yet descriptive and interpretational constructions that soothe Wall Street investors on ordinary days. Many investors nonetheless saw the gesture merely as a way of seeming unpanicked while the market, according to one expert, “collapsed”.

Update: Reports are coming in that the headline has now deflated further, losing the comma. Some readers nonetheless report concern that the phrase "economic calamity" has now been added to the headline, in addition to an inappropriate use of the word "grope".

Roughly one million NYTimes.com readers contributed reporting to this article.


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