Another Tale Of Two Headlines

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Another Tale Of Two Headlines

CREATED Mar. 24, 2013

Some of the most overt bias in the print media comes not from reporters but from the people who write headlines for the stories that the reporters write.  Since many of the people who still read newspapers just read headlines and perhaps a paragraph or two of a story, I believe headline writers end up having a disproportionate impact in shaping the way coverage is viewed.

I've made this point before but here's another great example that proves my point.

Late last week, the EPA announced a deal with the operators of the SS Badger car ferry that will allow the ferry to continue operating for another two years.

The headline in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reads: "Consent decree allows SS Badger to sail 2 more years".  In contrast, the headline (above the fold) in Saturday's Chicago Tribune read: "Coal-burning Badger ferry can pollute Lake Michigan until 2015"!

Think whoever wrote the headline for the Chicago Tribune had more than a bit of an agenda?

In fairness, the overall tone of the Tribune story (beyond the headline) is much harsher towards the SS Badger than the story that appears in the local newspaper.

The point though is that bias, while often subtle, is occasionally overt - and often found in the way a headline is framed.

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