Headline Confusion

Here’s the last of “previously posted” posts celebrating one year of Nephos. The news story mentioned is old, but the point of this post is still relevant. “Let the reader beware!”

It is common practice to try to attract attention to your article by having a controversial or catching headline. The problem comes when the headline is an inaccurate portrayal of what the article reports.Example:
Just yesterday the headline at ABC news read “Barbie Accused of Being Part of the Transgender Movement”. Taken at face value, that has to rank as one of the most moronic ideas of the year (ok, so it IS just January 3rd). Add the fact that the very first sentence includes “CWA, a leading Christian conservative group,” and you have the quintessential hook for a “must-read” article.The problem with this is that the claim of the headline “just ain’t so”. The facts of the article reveal that the groups’ claim is that Mattell, who manufactures Barbie, is “being influenced by the transgender movement.” Their headline reads

Barbie’s Web Site Promotes Gender Confusion. The issue the CWFA is raising is the use of Barbie (and apparently other dolls) to promote and expose children to transgender ideas.Whether this is true or not is beside my point. (In light of current culture, it would certainly seem to have at least some legitimacy.) When the headline is so obviously ridiculous, you approach the article with a preconceived conclusion. From the very beginning, the reader has the idea that this is another crazy right-wing attack on an innocent pop-culture icon. Tinky-winky, Elmo, Santa, and Sponge Bob have a new teammate.

With a subtle “spin” of the truth, the author has prejudiced us against the “idiots” that would dare think Barbie “transgender”. Once again the broad brush has been applied to those who have the temerity to be discerning. Perhaps it was the inadvertent result of the author trying to “hook” readers, or maybe it was an outright attempt to portray a conservative women’s group as extremists.

If this only happened occasionally, it might pass unnoticed. But it’s not. I’ve seen this increasingly in the recent months, and I fear it will continue. Discerning readers should take the time to mentally evaluate the claim of the headline and the truth of the article. Test the accuracy and logic of the writers claim. If there is “spin”, take it all with a grain of salt.

Personally, I’d like to see “truth in headlining”. It’s really not too much to ask.


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