Historic headlines need to look forward

In discussions Saturday and today, I criticized the Saturday New York Times headline, "MUBARAK OUT." I argued that yesterday's old news should not be the headline. Others said newspapers covering historic news are kept for posterity, justifying such headlines. Tim McGuire suggested a blog post on the topic. I decided to use Storify to summarize the discussion.


  1. Jim Roberts of the New York Times started the discussion by tweeting and praising the Times front page (which had much to praise).
  2. I criticized the headline.
  3. Elaine Clisham, a friend and former colleague from the American Press Institute, discussed with me the value of having a headline to keep for posterity.
  4. In addition to the discussion with Elaine, I had a discussion by Twitter direct message with Steve Klein, which I quote here with Steve's permission:
    @steveklein: Posterity matters. It's one of the things that actually does differentiate print. Readers want print to make the moment historic forever.
    @stevebuttry: Posterity matters. I'll save a newspaper today (can't recall last one I bought), probably a Times. But how about a head for today's readers?
    @steveklein: The "head' for today's readers is online. Isn't that the point? Today's readers -- now's readers -- are online/mobile. News is ubiquitous.
    @steveklein: I save historic newspaper front pages much like I save some magazines -- like the famous Wired "Push" cover!
    @stevebuttry: I save historic newspapers, too. Bought this one. NYT, too. But woulda bought one w/ forward-looking head.
    @steveklein: I don't disagree (not the same thing as agreeing!) on saving historic papers w/forward spin angle. But I do like the frozen moment in time.
    @steveklein: But that speaks to the point (esp. as Mark Potts makes it): Newspapers are and have been frozen in time. It's been a great 400-year run.
    @stevebuttry: Agreed. I cherish my time in newspapers. Their refusal/inability to change grieves me.
  5. My friend and former Des Moines Register colleague Charles Apple, who does a great blog on newspaper design, rounded up front pages on the Egyptian revolution, with great commentary on design, photo choice and headlines. I noted that several achieve historic front pages with forward-looking headlines.