Headlines that don’t deliver are really annoying

I recently wrote about the importance of effective headlines when writing a story. Well, another one at the BBC caught my attention yesterday: “Has Belfast film-maker found time travel evidence?” Evidence of time travel?

Who could possibly resist clicking on a headline like that? Of course, the only problem with a headline like that is that the story contained within really has to deliver in a big way.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting conclusive proof that time-travel was possible – as any sane person knows, travelling back in time ISN’T possible…at least until someone invents the bloody flux capacitor. But I was expecting more than what I found.

To cut a long story short, an amateur Belfast film-maker has done a very good job of getting publicity for himself – on the BBC and on US talk-shows. That’s the only real story to emerge from this debacle.

He points to a clip contained on a Charlie Chaplin DVD of a woman walking past in the background holding something to her ear. And seemingly moving her lips as though she’s talking. Given this is the 1920s, this therefore must mean the woman has travelled back in time with a mobile phone – and also taken an entire mobile phone network – including masts – with her.

Whoever said marketing was one of the greatest art-forms of recent times wasn’t wrong. But it still irks me when a non-story likes this makes world headlines. And I’m going to add to it too…see the video for yourself below and try telling me that isn’t a sea-shell she’s got pressed against her ear: