April 10, 2020 by jacklovelace
Accurate headlines are more important than ever.
I wince when I see those that don’t reflect the story, and I really wince when the headline fans fear without any reason.
One that illustrates a horrible headline was in the Friday Denver Post.
The story was picked up from the New York Times and was perfectly fine. It
points out that the post office has been so hard hit with the economic slowdown that business has dropped dramatically other than packages, and they are going to need an economic bailout too.
“Coronavirus threatening delivery of the U.S. Mail.”
My first thought, my God, postal workers are getting the virus in large numbers.
But when I read the story it has nothing to do with the virus affecting people. It is about the virus affecting the business. In total fairness, there is a little tiny sub-head that says “postal service asks for billions”. I couldn’t even see it until I blew up the page. I think the word “delivery” in the headline was particularly misleading.
As easy headline is “Mail volume slowdown hurting Postal Service bottom line”.
Or “Mail volume slowdown forces postal service to seek money help”.
I could come up with a half dozen similar accurate but non scary headlines.
This kind of scare head is seen far too often. The reality is tough enough with stoking it with inaccurate headlines.