Crash This Headline? MSN Twitter Contest Tests User-Generated Headlines

If you’ve ever read a news story and found yourself imagining a more creative headline, now’s your chance to bust out those puns and polish off those wordplays to share your wordsmith skills with the world.

Social news aggregator msnNOW, which launched in February to track stories trending on social media and search engines, has started a Twitter contest that runs through Friday (March 23) to see who among its followers can crash its headlines with something more colorful and creative.

Today’s story has an original headline: “Mom sues teacher for stealing her son’s lunch money.” There’s still time to put in your bid for today’s headline champ.

Yesterday’s story — the first launch of the Headline Crashers contest — focused on a report that marriage rates among high-income females have increased while their lesser earning peers have declined. The winning Twitter user’s suggested headline, which now graces the story and the site’s Twitter banner, was: “Men think women who bring home the bacon sizzle.”

Followers can join in by reading the daily story linked on Twitter and then submitting their revised headline with the hashtag #HeadlineCrashers. The posts go up at 9 a.m. Pacific time (noon on the East coast) and entries must be received by 2 p.m. PST (5 p.m. Eastern) to be eligible to win. To be honest, the prize is sort of lame — the winners are recognized in the msnNOW Twitter banner — but it’s a fun idea for a contest. And the contest is a good way to gain some recognition for their new site.

Has your news organization done this sort of headline crashing before? If not, maybe you should consider a lunch-time or early morning rendition to ask readers to re-headline your top stories. It could also be used in a similar way to ramp up attention for a new section or feature. You won’t get SEO-optimized headlines, but you’ll get a few laughs. Your followers probably won’t even need a prize, but they may appreciate reading retweets of the best suggestions.