If you work in the headline business, you know how important it is to come up with a striking title to your piece. It’s what grabs people’s attention. In the context of internet media, the headline is what leads to page views.
You see the same exact thing in radio and television. They do these little teasers and tell you that they’re going to divulge some jaw-dropping information, but you’ll have to wait, as it’s coming up at the top of the hour. So, you sit around and wait another 45 minutes, because you want to know this shocking news about what the senate Democrats are doing.
Then, after you’ve made yourself late to work waiting for this news that they told you “you wouldn’t believe,” you find out that that the story is actually nothing sensational. It’s nothing really. “Oh… Harry Reid is voting against the pro-life bill. That’s it? Come on, Sean!”
But on the upside, the radio personality had you hooked on his show for 45 minutes longer than you ordinarily would have. He’s concerned with obtaining as many listeners as possible. It’s good for his ratings. And he got what he wanted, all because of that over-hyped teaser he dangled before you. You just couldn’t resist.
But that doesn’t mean headlines have to lie. They can be short, snappy, and interesting without lying.
Here’s an example of an oversensationlized headline from liberal website Salon about an arsonist who targeted a mosque:
By placing this arson attack in the context of “escalating anti-Muslim violence,” the casual reader – who probably won’t even bother to read the whole thing – is lead to believe that yet another bigot has attacked Muslims. (Why don’t they ever bring up Muslim violence?)
Yeah, that’s how this business works. Nearly everyone is guilty of it. I’m sure you’ve come across plenty of headlines on news websites that made you angry, because the story being reported was not at all what the headline said it was going to be. Or, it showed an immediate and obvious bias.
What the Salon headline writer hopes is that most people won’t notice that the arsonist was someone who attended the mosque. He was a Muslim himself. Perhaps this particular mosque wasn’t “Muslim” enough? So, he had to take action? Now, for whatever reason, liberals don’t think this story is all that important anymore.