News headlines; we all read them. Exciting, shocking, mundane or depressing, these snapshots connect us to newsworthy occurrences throughout our world. But how do we react, and what are the consequences of major headline bloopers?
They’re everywhere folks. From “Dewey Defeats Truman”, appearing in the Chicago tribune after the 1948 elections, to the recent ESPN ‘chink in the armor’ scandal, referring to NBA player Jeremy Lin, these headline blunders sometimes create more news than the stories they represent, and, to some news industries dismay, make history.
Take for example, the Huffington Post article responding to Onward State’s tweet about the unconfirmed death of retired football coach Joe Paterno. Their headline read “Joe Paterno Dead: Ex-Penn State Coach Dies at 85”. Rumors of the coach’s death initiated from an email hoax sent to Penn State athlete’s about the alleged death, and spiraled from there when writers from Onward State, a college publication, decided to send out a Tweet and write an article. Major news organizations like CBS and Huffington Post spread the illegitimate news even faster.
Unfortunately, in the fast-paced news environment in which we live, mistakes like this one have been made for decades. The news stories that spin off of these mistakes create a whole new topic of news than the one originally being reported. NY Times, CNN, LA Times, and countless other news agencies, not to mention independent media outlets and online bloggers all wrote a story out of the misreporting of the coach’s death to the point that it became a larger event than even the event of his actual death later on. For news outlets this kind of attention is very unfortunate as the story of the mistake will live on potentially for decades, like the election misreport of the Chicago tribune mentioned above.
Sometimes a news scandal can inadvertently cause positive attention towards an event or individual. While ESPN headline writer Anothony Federico’s unseemly mistake with the “Chink in the Armor” headline may have sadly cost him his job, it has also brought a lot of publicity to the Nicks their player Jeremy Lin. Many readers who may not follow the Nicks or basketball have been drawn to the story due to the scandal, and Jeremy Lin’s name is currently commonplace in many American’s vocabulary.
These blunders can be said to have both positive and negative effects on both the news industry and their subjects alike. While some, like the Paterno story, cause only distress to family members and shame to news outlets, others may bring about some positive attention as well.