I think the key to making money, is to use exploit the fears of your fellow man in order to sell advertising space. It used to be that when a tragedy struck, the newspaper or TV station would simply report on the story. Even the headline would be bland: "President Kennedy Assassinated", or "Titanic Sinks. 1500 Dead." No snap, no pizazz. Who wants to read that story, or hear that report? Nobody. That's who. Especially not precious advertisers who are the life's blood of the news biz.
I needed to make the news more titillating. The FCC frowns on actually changing the news to fit your needs, but there is no rule about making the headline as dramatic and fanciful as you want. I started slow. It was post-Nixon and there seemed to be evidence that Reagan had sold weapons to anti-communist guerrillas in Central America. I should call my story Reagan Sells Weapons To The Contras. Iran Is Involved. Or I could drop a suffix on it and call the story Iran-ContraGATE. See? Now every body wants to read about it because I tied Nixon's past transgressions to the current situation.
And it works for everything. If a politician had hired and illegal au pair, it became "NannyGATE." An exposed breast at the Superbowl is NippleGATE. A pay for injury scandal in the NFL became BountyGATE. About the only thing it doesn't work for is a water related story. If there was a drought and the mayor of the town was wasting water, you could never call that story WaterGATE. Because people wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the new Scandal and the original Nixon one. Which brings us to another tool I used.
Labeling everything a Disaster or a Massacre or a Catastrophe or a Tragedy or any other synonym for Crisis. The above story about the mayor could read "Tragedy At The Mayors House. Water Use Catastrophic. And this is where the TV News has the advantage. You can create a logo for the event that will really stick with the viewers. Any kind of shooting is called a Massacre and is attached to bold, scary lettering and sniper sights.
But then, I was just too good at my job. Pretty soon, every Tom, Dick, and Harry thought he could drop GATE on a word, or include Disaster with a geographical location and write their own headlines. Newspapers stopped... well, everything. TV producers created events for the breezes, Cataclysmic Spring Winds. Story at nine. And soon nobody would pay my exorbitant fee anymore. And by exorbitant I mean a Starbucks Frappuccino and a pair of clean socks. And that is the absolute true story of how I don't make a living writing Headlines. I titled it Headline-ocalypse. Oh great! They're stealing that one now too.