journalism and media

Headlines excel in misrepresenting the true stories

The following was sent to the Letters to the Editor section of the Naples Daily News.  Upon submitting it, I requested that the newspaper keep my headline and not rewrite it. Read on to find out why.

TO THE EDITOR (Naples Daily News):

At least twice in the past week (and probably more), the Naples Daily News has used  a misleading headline to introduce a story. One was an article written for the News; the other was a USA TODAY story that was re-headlined.

The Naples Daily News story appeared on Sept. 18. Headlined as, “Locals respond in solidarity with demonstration against Dakota Access oil pipeline,” the story then goes on to note (with photograph) that, “…Motorists passing by Collier Boulevard and City Gate Drive at 5 p.m. Tuesday couldn’t ignore the sight of seven (bolding is mine for emphasis) people holding large signs…” Simply stated, and not taking sides in the story, seven people does not demonstrate solidarity.

The Sept. 24 story was from USA TODAY. The USA TODAY headline read, “Joint staff General’s girlfriend problem grounds career.” The Naples News rewrite changed the headline to, “General’s affair grounds career.”

Yet, reading the first paragraph suggests otherwise. The text states, “…has been fired from his job after an extramarital affair, and interviews and records show he had also negotiated a job and lived rent free in the home of a defense contractor, USA TODAY had found. (bold is mine for emphasis)” It seems to be that the extramarital affair is the least of the general’s problems.

By the by,  a similar story about another military official appeared in USA TODAY on July 27 and was headlined as,“Extramarital affair, misuse of resources cost Army general his post.”   That’s the type of headline that was needed onSept. 24.

In this day and age of misleading news coverage, isn’t it time for the Naples Daily News to set the tone of a higher level of journalism? Let’s have the headline really tell the tale of the upcoming story.