Truth in Headlining

I clicked a link on a news site, “Nick Clegg warns Barack Obama over ‘megaphone diplomacy’,” surprised that the relatively mild-mannered leader of the UK’s Lib. Dem. party would be sending such a stern message to President Obama. No such thing. The link opened an article on the UK’s Telegraph newspaper web site, documenting a question-and-answer session after a Clegg speech in Spain. If anything, Mr. Clegg was explaining to his questioner why he wasn’t going to fire back at Obama. His remarks were not addressed to the U.S. president nor were they critical of anything particular that has been said about the BP oil crisis in the Gulf of Mexico. In essence, the Telegraph completely mis-characterized Clegg’s remarks.
Happens all the time, doesn’t it? And it isn’t associated with a particular spot on the ideological spectrum. I find inaccurate and misleading headlines about political statements coming from both left and right wings. I suppose spicing up the headline leads to more views for the associated material–it got me to click the Clegg story–but somewhat at the expense of the overall credibility of the site doing the spicing.
Short of some Quixotic campaign to write comments on and letters to every site that offends in this way, I am at a loss what to do. I suspect, sadly, that nothing would be effective in getting writers to stop and think about how they’re characterizing an event, make sure to get it right, and, most importantly, to not let their own political position influence their characterizations any more than they can help.

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1 Response to “Truth in Headlining”


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