Thursday, March 11, 2010

irresponsible headlines

Most mornings I read Google News and some other news web sites.  Google News selects its headlines mechanically from other sources but those sources show increasing instances of the 'bait and switch' technique.  That is the deal where you see an item advertised for an amazingly low price and immediately go  to the store, only to find that the limited supplies of the item are already sold out.  However, here is a  similar, super-value item for a higher price.

Headlines are the tools of advertising in news communication as are titles in books and other writing.  I see a headline "China seeking to end Buddhism" on the main page of the BBC.  I thought the BBC would be above bait-and-switch but I guess any source might try attracting readers with sensational or alarming headlines.  Once I get into the article, I find it is about China's ongoing attempts to suppress or eliminate TIBETAN Buddhism.  There is a big difference between the quote "China seeking to end Buddhism" and the content of the story.  I suppose writers and websters can always claim space limitations and other outside factors.

I see this phenomenon quite often as the competition for human attention - sometimes called the primary resource in today's world - continues.  I see a headline such as "Salt found to prolong life" only to find the story actually says salt MAY prolong life.  

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