This morning, Gawker Media owner Nick Denton sent a memo to all his employees about the length of their headlines. Gawker published that memo:
Our wordy headlines are a growing disadvantage. That's why from tomorrow we're going to warn you in the Kinja editor to keep your headlines below 70 characters — and we're going to only display 70 characters on the front page even if you go longer.
The idea is that Google and Facebook punish long headlines by clipping them at around the seventy character mark, so Denton is trying to get the maximum number of eyeballs on each story by making the headlines legible across multiple platforms. The problem with this kind of edict, though, is that accuracy suffers, and the headlines are likely going to get more and more tabloidy. Sometimes a story needs a long headline; if you're writing about crimes, you even set yourself up for possible lawsuits if you drop an "alleged" or two for the sake of space.
That said, this is probably good for business on the internet. I bet the Huffington Post will counter by making all their headlines 35 characters, and then BuzzFeed will respond with an all-Emoji headline format, and from there on out, it's not very long until everyone's getting handjobs at Starbucks. Slog will continue to make our headlines as long as they need to be, because fuck SEO. [TWEET THIS!]