This kind of headline or link would likely get quite a few clicks as members of academe browse the virtual newsstand. Some purists, or are they Puritans, no doubt frown at the Internet habits of successful professionals, but is it really any better to author or consume articles with colons? Are they more serious, even as their titles, if not revelatory of, with the fine print that follows, deal also with death, sex, murder, all those good ingredients of literature and the bible that have been a mainstay practically ever since dinosaurs stopped walking on this earth?
What I am getting at is that headlines in academe, especially those related to news and opinions, are often attention-getting. And why should they not to be? Why would anyone of reasonable faculties think enticing headlines are a bad thing? In fact, they add some much needed levity and also entertainment to the field of higher education. Academe is not a contact sport, so let the tongues in writing duel.
Authors have long known that one must entertain first in order to instruct, if one so wishes, second. Graham Greene is a perfect example, and even his entertainments, as he labeled them, are serious works. Faculty know the importance of entertaining to be able to reach students. No, I am not suggesting that chemistry faculty must juggle Bunsen burners to entice students to embrace the valence of elements. Nor am I going to dilute, slow down, or elevate this commentary by going into Bergsonian theories of laughter and the incongruous to justify academicians seeking and wanting their own National Enquirer or People Magazine.
I say let’s hear it for more entertaining and “outrageous” headlines. We have not yet reached the saturation point in academe and I suspect even the most learned and serious among us will find some fascination with headlines such as “Faculty Member Dips Elbow Patches in Parking Lot Paint,” just to make one up, and if the attraction factor is such that a person will click and at least skim or scan the article, more information and opinions are distributed than if we are faced with headings as exciting as those generated by many textbook publishers still–inside their publications.
So if you see “Harvard To Hire 95% Conservatives,” “Ice Cream Truck Runs Over Archeologist,” “Faculty Dancing at Baylor University,” “Ambidextrous Dean Decides to Can Right-Hand Man,” click and read. I know I will.