A debate is raging here at Gawker Media: Should we, as a suite of web sites, maintain (with one exception) our current adherence to the grand American newspapering tradition of Headlines that Capitalize the First Letter of Each Significant Word? Or should we crumble before the creeping Europeanization of our culture and adopt the global norm of headlines that, casually, Capitalize only the first letter? What say you?
Here is a memo I received recently from the (British-Hungarian!) proprietor of the company that owns this site:
We're looking increasingly ridiculous in adhering to title case in all instances.
1. News is increasingly conversational. Shouldn't we reflect that?
2. When we write custom headlines for Twitter and Facebook, they're already in sentence case. One style for social media, another for our front pages: why?
3. io9 has used sentence case (except for lists) with no adverse consequences.
4. Sharing/reframing of stories means that we should try to be consistent.
5. We'll be sharing stories from Kinja users who don't know what title case is.
6. Respectable media organizations like The Economist and USA Today use sentence case without any loss of authority.
I know we've discussed this before. And the opposition exhausted me. But I'm asking again. And the arguments get ever stronger.
There is a sense among companies navigating the ever-roiling waters of internet publishing that sentence-case capitalization—"Reader poll: big letters in headlines or little letters in headlines?"—is the wave of the future, largely because the conversational style of communication via social media platforms favors lower-case punctuation (or so we are told). European newspapers have, for reasons that elude me, long used sentence-case headlines. American newspapers have tended to prefer headlines that deploy capitalization to convey authority.
But that preference is not uniform: USA Today, for instance uses sentence-case. And in 2009, the Washington Post switched over to the European style because, as then-editor Marcus Brauchli claimed, title-case style "was formal and just isn't as readable." The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and most other U.S. papers are keeping the tradition alive.
Of course we here at Gawker believe in the primacy of the reader in these conversations, and rather than debate the matter privately among the big-wigs, I thought I would throw it open to Kinja. So: Which would you prefer, and why? (Since we corporately only target U.S. unique viewers, I'm afraid I must limit the discussion to American residents, legal or otherwise.)