Here is a classroom exercise for editors: The cover story of last month's Fortune magazine is about how Google's software is scaring (apparently) Microsoft into reacting.
Q: As editor, what picture do you put on the cover?
Q: How do you word the cover headline? (Fortune's answer is down below.)
(I get Fortune magazine because I enjoy the writing style, as well as learn stuff about business. In the last year, however, I have noticed that articles have become subtle puff pieces. The change parallels the decline in advertising; Microsoft is an advertiser with Fortune, and Google is not.)
A: Fortune places a picture of a worried-looking Bill Gates on the cover. The headline reads, "Why Google Scares Gates."
The wording of the headline is interesting. Notice how Google is made distant by reference to its corporate name, while Microsoft is personalized through the name of its best-known employee.
The cover subhead, toc (table of contents), and article use the same technique. Here they are:
Cover subhead: "It's not just web search. Google is attacking Microsoft on its own turf: your PC. How Gates is fighting back."
This subhead is worded confusingly: Gates is protecting our PCs against attack by Google? Also, the wording ties in nicely with Microsoft's attempt to make its software seem safer from malware. Perhaps Microsoft marketing wrote the subhead on behalf of Fortune editors.
TOC entry: "Gates vs Google. The Microsoft chairman is on a mission to build a Google killer. Why? The darling of search is moving into software -- and that's Microsoft's turf."
Software is Microsoft's turf? (Tell that to Sun, Oracle, SAP, Autodesk, et al.) Perhaps Microsoft is relaunching its urge to be a monopoly.
Story title: "Search and Destroy."
The article shows pictures of the founder of Microsoft in color (but looking under attack), and the founders of Google in grayscale (but looking happy). I take it we're to root for Underdog Microsoft.