Rant: Use Your Head and Quit Treating Headlines Like the Full Story in Online News
The Internet can be a great tool for communication, news dissemination, and entertainment. It can also be a frustrating place that brings out some of the worst in people. Some of that "worst" is an innate laziness people have.
Headlines have played a vital role in news since the first newspapers were published hundreds of years ago. They give the reader the opportunity to skim a publication for stories that may be of interest to the reader or for news of a particularly vital nature. Technology has evolved a lot since the first newspapers, but one thing has not changed; a headline does not tell the whole story. The writer never intends for it to tell the entire story. That's as true today as it was when the first newspaper was published.
A good news writer will try to encapsulate as much as they can in a headline, but there is always a lot more of the story to be told in the article itself. Some writers/journalists are very dry and straight-forward with their headlines. They're the ones that lay out "Event happened at place and impacted these people during this timeframe". It's easy to draw conclusions about the happenings in the story, but there's a reason more is being written about it in the article. Important details that fill in the gaps are waiting below that headline.
The other type of headline we've all seen is the inflammatory statement or question headline. The writer says something very inflammatory about the subject of their piece in order to lead you into the details of what they have to say. Again, the important part of the piece is the article, not the headline.
It's like looking at only the frame around a painting. You're missing the part the creator of the piece wanted you to pay attention to the most.
The ever-increasing pace of life and the constant stream of stories being churned out with "look at me!" headlines being thrown around on social media have created a perfect storm where people treat the headline as the story for some reason. People are sharing and reacting to that headline, rather than the story the writer wanted you to read. The writer constructed that headline as part of the whole article, but it's being disconnected for some reason. It's like looking at only the frame around a painting. You're missing the part the creator of the piece wanted you to pay attention to the most; the context of the headline, and more importantly the rest of the story the headline starts to tell.
Look on any news Facebook page, local or national. It probably won't take you long to find people that make comments or ask questions based on the headline that are clearly answered in the story. Some of those people get very emotional or angry, purely based on the headline There are even people that will sometimes come out of the woodwork to attack the writer or the story, calling the content false or uninformed, purely based on the headline. Had that person read the story, they may not feel that way.
If only people would click through to read more than just the headline, the world would not only be a more informed place, but it might be slightly more civil. There would be less knee-jerk emotional reactions to stories where people bicker in the comments over loose tangents to the story they derived from the headline alone. The author would also probably appreciate that you took the time to read their piece as well, rather than just the headline.
With all of that said, I want to thank you for taking the time to read more than just my headline. Don't jump to conclusions based solely on a headline, use a little discretion if a story seems too unbelievable to be true, and read the whole story. The world will be a better place because of it!