The American Copy Editors Society is proud to announce the winners of the 2014 National Headline Contest. The below winners were officially announced March 26, at the opening session of ACES 19th annual conference in Pittsburgh, Pa.
ACES’ premier headline contest aims to reward exceptional headline writing in all types of mediums from newspaper to social media. Individual winners in professional categories are able to win up to $300 and winners in student categories are able to win up to $125.
The complete list of winners with the contest judging comments, are below. Click on the title of the entry category to view a PDF of all the honored headlines in that category.
1A – 200+, INDIVIDUAL
1: Steve Eames, Los Angeles Times
“From narrow, one-column heads to two-word hammer heads and in the specs in-between, the winner is clever yet clear. The wordplay works on the surface and secondary levels while remaining intriguing. It’s a tricky balance to maintain, but the writer does so in admirable fashion.”
2: Mike Davis, Los Angeles Times
“Strong label heads dominated this sports-oriented entry. ‘Free range chicanery,’ ‘He’ll play it by Erie’ (about LeBron James’ return to Cleveland) and ‘Twisted Assister’ — all of them grabbed attention while fully describing the thrust of the stories.
3: Kevin Leung, Los Angeles Times
“‘NRA says never mind, carry on’ is a thing of beauty. Easily one of my favorite headlines of the year.
“‘Gay marriage may tie GOP in knots’ worked wonderfully on multiple levels,” said another judge. “‘She’s a mother hen to Ducks,’ about an oral surgeon who dotes on a hockey team, was another treat written in a 1-column spec.”
1B – 100-200, INDIVIDUAL
1: Cameron Carlow, Omaha World-Herald
One judge wrote, “I liked every headline in this entry. Each one was clever and smart, relying on relevant wordplay where some might fall back on puns. Each word is important, well-chosen, and in many cases does more than one job.” Another judge wrote, “When I read the headlines in this entry, I knew this was the entry everyone else was going to have to beat. They couldn’t.”
2: Marianne Tamburro, NJ Advance Media
3: Holley Simmons, The Washington Post Express
One judge wrote, “These headlines are witty and smart—enticing the reader to read on.”
Honorable mention: Lori McCue, The Washington Post Express
1C – 0-100, INDIVIDUAL
1: Joe Berkery, Philadelphia Daily News
“Consistently great headlines in a tight tabloid count — sometimes just two words. They’re absolutely dead-on in conveying what the story is about (‘Skid Row’ is about a multi-car pileup; ‘Police Navidad’ is about a cop who helps out special-needs children at Christmastime), while employing clever wordplay.”
2: Peter Donahue, The Providence Journal
“Wordplay is just one tool in this elegant headline writer’s tool belt. We liked ‘New Mums in Waiting at the Nursery’ and ‘The Road to Eating on the Run Has Too Many Forks,’ but were truly in awe of the carefully chosen two words — ‘Glowing Revue’ — on a story about a jack-o’-lantern display.”
3: Peter Donahue, The Providence Journal
Honorable mention: Drew McQuade, Philadelphia Daily News
2 – NON-NEWSPAPER, INDIVIDUAL
Honorable mention: James Tehrani, MediaTec Publishing
3 – ONLINE, INDIVIDUAL
1: 1F. Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, NBCUniversal
“‘Love is in the Air’ goes perfectly with the cloud photo (if you can sing the headline, the reader will get hooked). … ‘Here’s the Kicker’ works on dual levels.”
2: Rick Schindler, NBCUniversal
3: David Fuller, Winnipeg Free Press
4 – STUDENT, INDIVIDUAL
5A – 200+, STAFF
1: The Washington Post
“A consistently well-crafted group of headlines, pushed to the top by three undeniable gems:
The tight-count ‘Word on the tweet: A born identity’ is a fun and crafty cloak-and-dagger play. ‘Take reservations off the table and diners become waiters’ had us pulling up our chairs, ready for the waiter … oh, wait. And ‘A legend built of barbs and Botox’ is a wonderfully bold obit hed, as brassy as its subject.”
2: The New York Times
“Professional and smart work throughout. Concise: ‘Rounding up suspects, Pakistan charges a baby.’ Lyrical: ‘With Giants in Series, One Rock Song Goes On and On and On and On.’ And very much to the point: ‘Before the Ink Dries on Rules, Soldiers Rush for Tattoos.’ ”
“A joy to read: ‘Ban on nudity is accepted, barely’ and ‘This “Family” enjoys corn on the macabre’ ”
5B – 100-200, STAFF
1. Omaha World-Herald
“In this extremely evenly matched category, one of the judges put it best by saying the winning headlines spoke to him. They were consistently strong and creative, showing an ability to craft a good turn of phrase on news stories without reaching, and even mixing in a winning sports headline: ‘Kyle Kinman only starts with K’s.’ We loved ‘Capitol’s keeper says painstaking restoration of vintage chairs will pay off in the end//How much? You may want to sit down.’ ”
2. The Washington Post Express
“This entry also wowed the judges with gems like ‘Bread your wings and fry’ and ‘Ain’t nobody got lime for that.’ ”
3. NJ Advance Media
“Favorite offerings were ‘How’d it go for Lynch at Media Day? Don’t ask’ and ‘It’s a marvelous night for a moon glance.’ ”
5C – 0-100, STAFF
“The winning entry made a strong statement with effective wordplay that never crossed over into groaner territory. Its editors made great use of generous specs by writing jump heads that would make readers want to go back and take a story from the top if they hadn’t already. Cases in point: ‘Uber Rear-Ended by Major Public Relations Crisis,’ ‘Congress Burdened by an Attention-to-Deficits Disorder’ and ‘Popularity Fading, Obama to Put on Blue-State Shoes.’ ”
2. The Wichita Eagle
“These editors also turned in several grabbers, including ‘Missing painting leaves bare spot’ and ‘No middle ground when shaping up for crop tops.’ ”
3. Winnipeg Free Press
“This entry made us smile with ‘Cirque du So L’il’ and ‘Minding their pees and queues.’ ”
5D – NON-NEWSPAPER, STAFF
1: Human Capital Media
“By suggesting that someone knows more about you than you know about yourself, ‘You, Biased? No, It’s Your Brain’ is the type of headline that makes you do a double-take. It sparks your curiosity and dares you to jump into the story to find out what could be going on inside your brain. ‘Duck’s Dynasty’ captured the light feeling of the photo and a profile story. It works even if you’ve somehow managed to not hear of the show (the key to a successful pop culture reference in a headline).
5E – ONLINE, STAFF
1: 2U. NBCUniversal
“There’s lots of refreshing whimsy. ‘Purls of wisdom’ and ‘Cocoa Chanel’ use perfectly placed puns. The Elvis headline is spot-on, and points for going beyond the usual King puns.”
2: 5U. NPR
5F – STUDENT, STAFF
1: The Daily Tar Heel, University of North Carolina
“It was easy to tell from this entry what the biggest story of the year was at the university. Time and again, the paper handled the student-athlete scandal not with tired cliches, but with straightforward, conversational headlines that draw the reader in. ‘How did UNC get here?’ is the rare question headline that works. ‘87 Percent Said No’ is a commanding headline that immediately shows the gravity of the apparent morale problem at a North Carolina high school. It lets the survey numbers from the story do the talking. And “Along Came Molly” makes an effective contrast with the reporter’s story; the hed references a lighthearted film while the report about a popular drug strikes a darker tone.
2: Columbia Missourian, University of Missouri
“The ‘Sam: I know who I am’ headline stood out with its clever Dr. Seuss play.
3: Laramie County Community College