A survey by the Gatherers of Useless Newspaper Trivia (GUNT) have found that headlines which explain an entire story in its headline are more eye-catching than similar articles with shorter headlines.
To test this, identical stories with different headlines were planted in a number of online news websites. For example, a recent story was invented about how North Korea are developing nuclear weapons. On one site it was headlined "North Korea close to developing deadly nuclear weapons; world draws its breath but ultimately it is likely to be just posturing by their mad leader Kim Jong Un". The same story was published on another website with the headline "Pyong-Bang!".
The survey found that the longer and more descriptive headline was much more likely to catch a reader's attention, whereas the shorter, pathetically unfunny one caused people to rapidly lose interest.
Another made-up story featured in the test recently was about the state of the UK's economy. Again, the longer headline "Chancellor George Osbourne worried about the long term consequences of the UK's economy if it enters a triple dip recession, but nobody really knows what will happen" gathered far more interest than the shorter headline "The Osbourne Legacy".
One theory behind the survey's results is that longer headlines have more time to grab a reader's attention, whereas shorter jokey headlines are more likely to annoy them. Pun writers have said to have been "dis-appointed" at the results.