There’s a new problem in the 2012 election cycle. Story headlines will/have become more powerful than ever, because more people are getting their “news” from headline feeds sent to computers, smart phones, and tablets. Even news junkies with busy lives won’t look at what’s behind most of the headlines they see on these devices. When they do, especially given the limited real estate on their screens, they will rarely read past the opening paragraph or two.
For example, headlines and opening teases work effectively to portray Obama favorably or to denigrate his potential electoral opponents. Thus this headline editing has given the editors extraordinary power to influence the political and cultural narrative, and they have learned how to abuse it.
Here is an example that illustrates how the MSM can influence what headline-only readers see about the same story.
From Yahoo News: Senate rejects Obama call to end Big Oil tax breaks
Here are some more examples of headline editing and how it can influence/distort article content:
- From the Washington Post, Ryan introduces GOP budget plan, slashing social programs and tax rates. That headline alone is bad enough, but those who bother to click through will see the following opening sentence: “House Republicans renewed their commitment Tuesday to the politically risky strategy of targeting Medicare and other popular social programs to tame the national debt, unveiling a $3.5 trillion spending plan that would also slash the top tax rate paid by corporations and the wealthy.” But the actual Ryan Budget Plan shows Medicare increasing by no less than 4.7% in any year between 2013 and 2021, and by 70% during the nine-year time period.
- From the New York Times, Killings Could Stall Election’s Nationalist Turn This headline mentions nothing about who was killed or where the killing took place. It turns out that the accompanying story was about an Islamist killing seven, including three children, at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France.
- From the Associated Press, via Newser, Obama defends handling of Keystone as he puts another key oil pipeline on the fast track This is a perfect example of how a headline can be quite misleading. “Another?” When has Obama ever “fast-tracked” anything not involving “green energy?”
- AP’s Will Weissert, via Newsbuters, Santorum: Might As Well Have Obama Over Romney Again, a very misleading headline. Clicking through to the first sentence of Weissert’s article, readers will see: “Presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Thursday said Republicans should give President Barack Obama another term if Santorum isn’t the GOP nominee and for a second day compared rival Mitt Romney to an Etch A Sketch toy.” Weissert and the AP’s headline writer disgracefully used the their headline and Santorum statements to stuff words into Rick Santorum’s mouth that he never said, before getting to what he actually said in the fourth paragraph. Santorum never said anything remotely resembling “Republicans should give President Barack Obama another term if I’m not the nominee,” and Weissert and his employer know it.
So, where are we and what do we do? Being aware of what the MSM is doing and how they are doing it is half the battle. Spreading the word about the MSM tactics is the other half of the battle. All we can do is spread the word, continue to support Internet sites like Conservative Daily News, and keep our personal guards up.
But that’s just my opinion.