Media frenzyI’m on my band-wagon again.  Well, one of them.  My ‘sheez the media is crap, especially considering they are (supposed to be) professionals at it.’ band-wagon, to be precise.

Anyway, in the last week I have seen so many cases of either sloppy reporting, or misleading headlines/sub-headings that I decided to post about it.  Two examples here are from today, but the best example I can cite is actually from a week or so ago (more on that later).



Today’s example 1: Wrong facts

Screenshot_10_03_13_12_22_PMThis one states ‘CEO Mark Ford …“.  The problem here is Mark Ford isn’t the CEO, he’s the chairman.  A very important distinction, especially considering the current criticism for the ex-CEO. OK, a simple error perhaps, but it should have never got past the proof reader.  And if it did, it shows that either the proof reader didn’t do their job, or doesn’t know their content.  Mark Ford is a professional DIRECTOR, he’s not a CE of anything that I know of at the moment.  I know this, why doesn’t the person writing and proofing this?




Screenshot_10_03_13_12_23_PM-2Example 2: Misleading sub-heading designed to trick the reader into clicking (I think we call that Spam if it’s an email).

This sub-heading reads ‘Cantabrians who have made Earthquake Commission claims will be investigated‘.  Now there are 200,000 or so claims in Canterbury (from memory), so that means 200,000 people might be quite interested in this story.  Except one important word has been missed out.

When one clicks on the headline, the full story reads quite differently it starts ‘Cantabrians who have made false claims…‘.  There is the key word FALSE.  So what the actually story is saying is that false claims will be investigated, not ALL claims.  That word should have never been left out of the sub-heading.

The story has it in the first line (as shown below), why not the sub-heading?  Because sensationalist headlines are in, that’s why!




Screenshot_10_03_13_5_16_PMBut the best (or is that worst?) example was a few weeks ago when the NZ Herald lead on their web site with the headline “Gay marriage bill approval“.  The article also initially stated “The Select committee approved gay marriage…”, when BOTH statements are totally incorrect.  The select committee RECOMMENDED that the bill be approved.   HUGE difference.  It’s politics 101, how our parliamentary systems works.  Once again, why doesn’t a journalist know this?  Why wasn’t this very basic, yet fundamental error picked up?  And just to be clear, this approval means the bill (ie not yet law) goes back to the house and parliament votes on it again (called the 2nd reading), and only once it is passed and approved the THIRD time by parliament is it law.  THEN and ONLY THEN is it approved by anyone!  A full summary of this process is here.

Over the course of several hours I noticed the headline and story edited several times, but the most fundamental error (the ‘approval’ vs recommended) error wasn’t picked up until the end of the day, and even then the headline was still factually misleading (it still said ‘approval’).


Black and White Version: Headlines are important.   Facts are important.  Media screw up both too often.



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