An Accurate Headline?

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on February 16, 2011

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-Read the excerpt below from the "Best of the Web" post by OpinionJournal.com's editor James Taranto (original post date 2/15/11).
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

“GOP Mocks Obama Budget,” declares an Associated Press headline. Here is a complete list of Republican comments from the dispatch:

“In our nation’s most pressing fiscal challenges, the president has abdicated his leadership role,” said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. “When his own commission put forward a set of fundamental entitlement and tax reforms . . . he ignored them.” . . .

“We have consistently said it’s not our intention to shut down this government,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Monday of one possibility should there be an impasse. “That’s political talk and we ought to get that off the table and we ought to go about the real business of trying to cut spending.” . . .

“The president punted on the budget, he punted on the deficit,” Ryan told reporters. “That’s not leadership, that’s an abdication of leadership.”

That’s it. It would be accurate to call this criticism, defensible to call it strong criticism and a stretch to call it harsh criticism. It certainly comes nowhere near being mockery.

Read the origianl post at opinionjournal.com. (scroll almost halfway down to “Accountability Journalism”)

Questions

1. What does the headline “GOP Mocks Obama Budget” lead you to believe about Republican politicians? 

2. Why is it important for newspapers to provide accurate headlines for every news article?

3. Why do you think the Associated Press chose the headline they used? 


Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answers.
























Answer(s)

1.  Answers vary along the lines of:  The headline leads the reader to believe that Republican congressmen were making fun of President Obama’s proposed budget; they had nothing useful to say – only used mockery.

2.  Headlines can greatly influence readers’ opinions about the news. The importance of an accurate headline is that most people don’t read every word of every article; they often just skim the headlines. Therefore, those who read just a headline are not accurately informed when the headline misrepresents the story.

3.  Opinion question. Answers vary.