Thursday, July 26, 2012

How to Craft Headlines to Mold Public Opinion


I’ve been disturbed for some time with the propensity of news headline writers to ignore the content of the articles being headlined in favor of hyperbole, misrepresentation and outright falsehood.

The recent news flap about a sudden “melt” on the Greenland ice sheet is a perfect example of escalating “Headline Wars.”


The article in question describes a recent sudden melting of the upper surface of 97% of Greenland’s ice sheet. In the above headline, fairly modest compared to others, the melt is described as “unprecedented.”

However, “Common Dreams Staff” and/or the headline writer, ignored the explanation contained in the article so headlined:

"Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time," says Lora Koenig, a Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data.”
The observed melt is not at all “unprecedented,” having been recorded in historic times and repeatedly earlier.
Some headlines have gone even further, from The Independent. 


Voice of America, in an article that deletes the paragraph about historical periodicty:

Associated Press:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Nearly all of Greenland's massive ice sheet suddenly started melting a bit this month, a freak event that surprised scientists.
This paragrah is a complete lie, as only the surface of the ice sheet melted slightly for a few hours.

Only one source questioned the hyperbolic headlines of its sister publications: Examiner.com in a refreshingly rational article by weatherman JUSTIN BERK

In all of the media hype over Global Warming and Climate Change, no periodicals or news web sites publish scientific literature that calls to question the Anthropogenic Global Warming hypothesis. It’s no wonder the news reading public has become inured to lurid headlines and hyperbolic claims by media pundits. The public has nothing to compare against this headline propaganda onslaught. Few read the story through to the end, even if it does contain an explanation that contradicts the headlines. Most people get their news impressions from headlines and pictures.
Editors, and their handlers, know this well.
Far be it from me to suggest that the news is manipulated by extra-editorial interests. We have a “Free Press” after all, free to print whatever is in the interest of the owners of the press, that is.
This is one advantage that can be gained by reading the news in computer based news aggregators that present the same subject material from a variety of sources. One can compare headlines and content across a broad spectrum.
It’s amazing what one can discover through critical reading and analysis. You may not find The Truth, but you can reveal The Lies in the headlines.

4 comments:

  1. What refreshing writing. I am so sick of all the dishonesty and posturing and hysteria. Disturbing stuff you say about Common Dreams... not surprising though.

    I am wondering... do you think that water and carbon in the atmosphere are really the mischief-makers they are made out to be? Seems plausible to me, and also I think that we ought to be sequestering carbon and water in the soil and trees...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Water vapor, CO2 and other so-called "greenhouse gases" absorb some infrared radiation from the surface of the earth and ocean and reradiate it. Some of it is radiated out to space, some of it is reabsorbed by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and some of it is absorbed by the earth and its ocean, to be reradiate to the atmosphere, and on and on.

      This is only "mischief" in the view of creating an ever varying planetary energy budget, which humans, who expect a constant and stable environment, find inconvenient.

      We should be doing a lot of things, primarily reducing and controlling human population and consumption growth. We now consume four planets worth of resources, which cannot continue for long.

      Mother Nature always bats last, and her equipment includes far more immediate bats than climate variation.

      Delete
  2. Do you talk to people? I may be wasting my time looking for a response here, some bloggers prefer not to interact...

    I hope you let me know.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Vera!

    Yes, I talk to people all the time.

    Would you like to talk in a series of comments on these posts, or by direct email at the address on my profile?

    Either is fine with me!

    Michael

    ReplyDelete