Journalists over the years have assumed they were writing their headlines and articles for two audiences — fickle readers and nitpicking editors. Today, there is a third important arbiter of their work: the software programs that scour the Web, analyzing and ranking online news articles on behalf of Internet search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN.
Danny Sullivan explains the difference between browsing news and searching for news. This is an important distinction and I think Danny gets it right;
When I'm reading a newspaper, a catchy, funny headline might be what I need to pull me into a story. And I do love a good headline. But if I'm keyword searching for news, I know what I'm after. Your catchy headline isn't what pulls me in. Your headline using the terms I searched for is what will do it.
I personally do not know how to write a "catchy headline" that is not direct and too the point (i.e. keyword specific so that searches can find it). Do folks like us now need to worry about being outranked by the larger publishers? Not only do they have popularity on their side, they now know how to "SEO" an headline.
Forum discussion at Search Engine Watch Forums.