Saturday, August 23, 2014

News headlines should not editorialize

The following is a letter to the editor of the Ottawa Sun, as submitted on August 22, 2014. A shortened version was published on August 23.

_____

Your relentless consistency in discouraging readers from making up their own minds about the issues of the day simply amazes. A case in point, for two different reasons, is the front page headline for August 22, which read "A PROTEST FOR ALL: 2,000 clog downtown streets to rally against this, that and the other thing".

Firstly, before the reader has a chance to read the story, you've told them what to think with a headline that rolls its eyes in disdain, and implies that the demonstration was a nuisance characterized by intellectual meandering.

Secondly, the headline is dishonest. While the event featured groups and speakers representing a wide range of concerns, it had a very singular focus. Those who took the time to read Kelly Roche's accompanying article would have been able to determine that much, at least, despite a front page headline that seemed to discourage the effort.

It is disrespectful to the reader and the reporter that you taint the article with front page editorializing, thus transforming responsible journalism into propaganda-by-association.

James Deagle
Ottawa, ON