Friday, May 26, 2006

The anatomy of a bad headline

"Enron Verdict Divides Former Employees" blares the headline affixed to the A.P. article written by Angela K. Brown. This headline is now part of the record at the Houston Chronicle, (1st link above),, The Washington Post, The Drudge Report, Salon, and many more widely read sites soon to come, due to the viral nature of A.P. article sharing.

What is wrong with the headline? Mainly that the employees in question actually are not split in the least about the jury's findings. The differences are the degree of satisfaction over the guilty verdicts.

The article gauges the opinion of three ex Enron employees: Sheri Saunders, Brian Cruver and Richard Evans. Cruver and Evans reaction to the actual guilty verdicts real time were rather laid back. Saunders squeals in joy at the news. Yet both Cruver and Evans believe justice has been served.

Terming the reactions of these ex employees as divided is like saying that a roomful of Red Sox fans were split in their opinions when they won the World series because some of them were jumping up and down and screaming, but there were others who were sitting in their chairs with their arms and legs extended, and yet others rolling around on the floor with gleeful smiles on their faces. An objective viewer, knowledgeable on the facts would wonder if maybe the headline writer was a Yankees fan because it is pretty clear what the case really is.

There is actually not one mention of any ex employee of Enron who disagrees with the verdict. Anyone just skimming headlines would certainly be excused if they reached the opposite conclusion without reading the entire article. I'm just left wondering why the A.P. would choose to put such a misleading title on this story in particular?

The press always needs a controversy to make a story. I think they were trying to invent a story.

I've got you linked on Prague Twin.

Keep up the good work.

Great job keep up your insightful ,and factual writing. As soon as I learn how to link things, I want to link to your site (or whatever they call it), until then another good site is Flavia Colgan's site The truth is a bitch to the r's. Thanks for making that so.
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