A New York Times reader has put his finger on something that might prove to be an important new development in headline design. Friday he spotted on the front page of the Times website a story with this head:

The reader points out that the head “is so compressed and clumsy and the legal context is so arcane” that the only way to find out what the head is talking about is to read the story. How many times have you skipped over a story because the headline told you everything you thought you needed to know about it (“Ferry Sinks in Java: Hundreds Lost”)? Between a paywall charging for stories and inscrutably opaque headlines that make us read them, perhaps the Times has figured out a business model.