ACES 2012 | New Orleans

Headline contest winners announced

The American Copy Editors Society announced the winners of its 2011 national headline contest on April 12, 2012, at the organization’s 16th national conference in New Orleans.

Winners received a total of $3,250 in cash prizes, as well as plaques and certificates, in categories for individuals and staffs at a variety of publications. Prizes were awarded for first, second and third place in each division, and in some cases the judges also decided to award an honorable mention.

For a complete list of winners, their entries and comments from the judges, check back at see the headline contest website.

Below are the first-place winners in each category and division, along with any comments the judges supplied:

CATEGORY 1, DIVISION A: Individuals at newspapers with circulations of 240,001 or above

Winner: David Bowman, Los Angeles Times
Judges’ comments: Bowman’s use of puns generally plays well here, giving the story’s gist without feeling too forced. His headlines showed finesse and humor on a wide range of topics. He was able to masterfully work wordplay into tight counts without sacrificing clarity.

CATEGORY 1, DIVISION B: Individuals at newspapers with circulations between 160,001 and 240,000

Winner: Dixie Land, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Judges’ comments: Totally ingrained and awesome; fun and engaging; “Exercism” captures the craziness of punishing workouts from both the viewpoint of the pain-seeking exercise enthusiast and the rest of us who are reading the paper on the couch, doughnut in hand.

CATEGORY 1, DIVISION C: Individuals at newspapers with circulations between 80,001 and 160,000

Winner: Peter Donahue, Providence Journal
Judges’ comments: Smart headlines without resorting to cliches. Donahue uses lean,
razor-sharp wordplay — “Twitter site,” “trunks” and “Windsor knot.”

CATEGORY 1, DIVISION D: Individuals at newspapers with circulations of 80,000 or below

Winner: Michael Roehrman, Wichita Eagle
Judges’ comments: Solid word play that keeps a headline’s main mission — to inform the reader — in mind; headlines and art work together; headlines work on multiple levels. “Desperation is the only thing growing” captures the emotion of the story with a nice turn of a phrase.

CATEGORY 2: Non-newspapers

Winner: James Tehrani, Workforce Management

CATEGORY 3: Online

Winner: Lion Calandra, FoxNews.com

CATEGORY 4: Students

Winner: Zack Aldrich, Columbia Missourian
Judges’ comments: The headlines here offer engaging word play that goes beyond the obvious and still communicates the news of each story. “Awaiting Game” especially is a sophisticated, clever headline, as were “No Garbage, Just Thrash” and “Suspension ≠ Vacation.” The writer did a great job of giving enough to pique the reader’s interest without giving away the whole story.

CATEGORY 5, DIVISION A: Staffs at newspapers with circulations of 240,001 or above

Winner: Dallas Morning News
Judges’ comments: The judges were unanimous in naming this portfolio their favorite. The Dallas Morning News offers a selection of clever, punchy headlines that get right to the heart of the story. This portfolio includes a great combination of straightforward puns and some more clever wordplay that rewards you when you figure it out. The display type also works nicely with accompanying photos, and the captions supplement the headlines for the full package.

CATEGORY 5, DIVISION B: Staffs at newspapers with circulations between 160,001 and 240,000

Winner: Newark Star-Ledger
Judges’ comments: “Much ado, then nothing” is brilliant; consistently puts out interesting, eye-catching headlines that should make their readers stop and think — or, at the very least, giggle.

CATEGORY 5, DIVISION C: Staffs at newspapers with circulations between 80,001 and 160,000

Winner: Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, Ill.
Judges’ comments: These headlines do what they’re supposed to do, and they do it with panache — grab the reader’s eye and make him want to know what’s going on. They come from all over the paper. “GI Joe” is a home run, as is “Village people.” Nor do they shy away from sentiment when it’s needed, as in the “quilt” story.

CATEGORY 5, DIVISION D: Staffs at newspapers with circulations of 80,000 or below

Winner: Wichita Eagle
Judges’ comments: The Eagle’s staff did an outstanding job on a variety of stories. “Middle of nowhere, center of everything” combines two contrasting thoughts in an interesting, clever and informative way. “Desperation is the only thing growing” works perfectly with the main photo on the page and captures the essence of the story. “Bloated ‘New Year’s Eve’ drops the ball” and “Russell Brand’s ‘Arthur’ leaves viewers thinking ‘No Moore’” are both examples of smart movie-review headlines that work on two levels.

CATEGORY 5, DIVISION E: Non-newspapers

Winner: Playboy
Judges’ comments: Especially liked the playfulness of the Playboy entries and surprised by the variety of topics covered in the magazine.

CATEGORY 5, DIVISION F: Online

Winner: Today.com, a production of MSNBC.com

CATEGORY 5, DIVISION G: Students

Winner: Daily Tar Heel, University of North Carolina
Judges’ comments: These headlines work with visual presentation to draw in readers and communicate the news with accuracy and engagement. There are some real gems here, such as “Gymnastics Injuries Harden Diamond” and “#Winning.” Overall, a solid portfolio.

For a complete list of winners, their entries and comments from the judges, check back at see the headline contest website.

ACES is a nonprofit education and membership organization working toward the advancement of copy editors. To learn more about the organization and the 2012 national conference, visit http://www.copydesk.org.

2 comments on Headline contest winners announced

  1. Alan Stamm
    April 13, 2012 at 8:31 am (925 days ago)

    You’ve hidden the lead!

    It would be visitor-friendlier to show winning headlines right here on this page, rather than in a 265-slide PDF that starts with student winners.

    Posting only context-less comments about unseen heads is a tease that creates frustration instead of admiration for what I assume are imaginative examples of the headline-writing craft.

    • Daniel Hunt
      April 13, 2012 at 12:42 pm (925 days ago)

      While I think the order could be reversed, Alan, the PDF is a copy of the slideshow that was presented at Thursday’s opening session, and it gave a little anticipation to the announcement. We plan on having all the headlines available online next week but, for now, we’re focused on giving our attendees our undivided attention during the conference. Thanks for your input.