NEWSPAPERS are hoping to increase readership by placing a randomly selected number at the start of each headline.
Research shows that headlines beginning with a random number are less intimidating and make readers more confident they will be able to understand what the article is about.
Today’s Times leads with ‘9 men told to wait before prostate cancer treatment’ while the Guardian’s top story is ’14 high-level rift delays universal credit scheme’.
Times editor, John Witherow, said: “If you read the story you’ll hopefully realise that it’s not just nine men, but nine was today’s randomly selected put-the-reader-at-ease number.”
Julian Cook, ‘professor’ of media at Roehampton University said: “The random number isn’t just about making the reader feel intelligent enough to read the article, it also helps them estimate how long it will take.
“We all lead increasingly busy and important lives, which is why the random number tends not to be 4,007.”
Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger added: “You could argue that because of the 14 the headline doesn’t really make sense, but I would argue that the headline has a 14 at the beginning of it.”