Case Study 5: Misleading, inaccurate headlines

20 Feb

The headline “Falcons ‘won’t forget’ Brees airing it out late to break record” is, at most, misleading. While the phrase “won’t forget” can imply that the moment in question was, for those who witnessed it, worth remembering, it can also mean that the team as a whole was upset and would let its anger hold over until the teams’ next meeting. It is clear from the story that not everyone who watched Saints quarterback Drew Brees break Dan Marino’s passing record late in a game that the Saints were winning handily was impressed, but there is no evidence in the story to show the entire Falcons team felt that way. There was only one Atlanta Falcons player who said his team “won’t forget” the decision to “go for it”: “No need for that,” one player said, according to “It came on our watch, but it didn’t have to come that way. We won’t forget it.”

Misleading, inaccurate headlines should be avoided entirely. If a headline is attention-grabbing enough to get a reader to look at a story but is not backed up by the story itself, it’s not a good headline. Writing clear, informative headlines can make a world of difference, potentially bringing in more readers and page views.


One Response to “Case Study 5: Misleading, inaccurate headlines”

  1. Ronald R. Rodgers February 22, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    OK, but response to this is missing: Read this headline – does text support hed or is it misleading?

    Excuse given here:
    Were there enough sources in the original story linked to, and is that sufficient is the ultimate point of this case study.

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