Friday, May 25, 2007

Headline abuse

In my perpetual mission to uncover horribly inaccurate headlines, I don't think I've run across one so blatantly bad as this: Video games, gas prices cut traffic to US parks: from the Christian Science Monitor. The story is about declining attendance at the country's state and national parks. Although our beloved video games get top mention, that's not the reality. You have to get to the third page of the article before you see the critical line:

"Federal officials, governors, and others around the country have launched programs to fight what they see as "nature deficit disorder" among American couch potato kids spending increasing amounts of time in front of the TV or computer screen, playing video games, or text messaging on their cellphones – 44 hours a week, according to the National Wildlife Federation"
That's right, even in the line games are mentioned, they're not even mentioned first. Here are some other things mentioned in the article that might be contributing to the decline:
  • soccer camps
  • 9/11's chill on the economy and foreign visitation
  • the 1997 flood (of Yosemite)
  • shifting demographics
  • cost of visiting parks (gas excluded)
  • park fee hikes
So what's with picking on video games Ben Arnoldy & Brad Knickbocker (the writers [love the name Brad!]). I mean, seriously, WTF mates?! At best, your headline is a gross exaggeration. At worse, you're simply creating a lie through false pretenses since the National Wildlife Federation quote does not even correlate those activities with anything else let alone nature park visits. Hey guys, your community college called, they want the journalism degrees back.


Unknown said...

You ought to point them to your post.

It's not uncommon for editors to rewrite headlines, so Brad and Ben might not even realize the calumny against games their paper is waging.

Ken said...

Good point about the editors. I didn't see a place to ping them but maybe they'll google or technorati themselves. =)