Headlines: Why editors matter in journalism.

Headlines: Why editors matter in journalism.

The phrase “debate begins” in the headlines of multiple stories on coronavirus does not mean sneaky journalists copy-pasted a press release

If you encounter the same story on different news sites, that does not mean you caught sneaky America-hating fake news “journalists” in the act.

Headlines from CNN and Fox shade in different directions, but both articles agree in substance that Trump got a mixed reaction from the “Ultimate Fighting Championship” in New York yesterday.
When a correspondent sent to Cuba to cover a possible war telegraphed that there would be no war, Willam Randolph Hearst is said to have replied, “You furnish the pictures, I’ll furnish the war.” It’s a story I remember learning in middle school. But there’s no contemporary evidence of this exchange, which would never have been permitted by the Spanish telegraph censors.

For the UK Guardian, the news is the words the White House used while accusing Acosta of an action caught on video. For Fox, Sanders was accused of sharing an allegedly “‘doctored’” video of a neutrally-identified “interaction.” For the Washington Post, the White House “shares doctored video” — no accusation, no scare quotes. Read these articles for yourself, not just the headlines.

Details like headlines matter. Journalists should work hard to avoid being misread.
If you were this person’s attorney, you’d probably want this social media blurb phrased a little differently. The headline attached to the story is clearer. Yes, the social media blurb is shorter, but I’d rather cut the “Twp” and make room for the unambiguous “and.”
My daughter and I were talking about prop newspapers, and she suggested making a newspaper prop with headlines such as “Actors Fail to Distract Audience from Prop Newspaper Headlines”
I try to teach my students to recognize and avoid biased language. But rhetorical fairness is not the same thing as uncritically giving equal time to “both sides” when the side with power denies the fundamental humanity of the side without power.

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