One More Thing on Headlines: When going off about headlines last time, I forgot to give kudos to headline writers for using their creativity for fun instead of sensationalism. My dad was a punster and a lot of headline writers are too! They play on the double meanings of words when they write headlines, and, if you have a sense of humor, look for them! If you find some great headlines, post them as a comment on the blog. We’ll make a collection.
Is It Biased? You also want to decide if the story is slanted or balanced. For a good many years, the publisher or the editor of our local paper had a definite political bias, which was reflected in the headlines and opening paragraphs. The balance or other side of the story did not appear until half way to two-thirds into the article. I think they thought we’d stop reading it by then, and so I told my students during that era that they needed to look in the middle of the articles for the real story. For a while, our local paper was much more balanced and accurate than that, but it is now balanced on some articles and not on others. It seems they alternate days, and the articles are particularly biased near an election. Sometimes, however, you can tell that the story was used “as is” from a press release provided by Washingon, the governor’s office, or something like that, as when a news article next to it has opposite “facts.”
When reading an editorial or an op-ed piece, I always read the author bio, the publication they write for, and the first and last paragraph first. These paragraphs are usually good introductions and excellent summations. If I think, “These comments are really wacky,” I remember what publication they work for. There are some publications with consistent leanings so opposite of mine that I rarely like or agree with anything they have to say. But if I need to get my adrenalin going, I’ll read them as well as the letters to the editor. Sometimes, I actually agree with something they say! And my horizons have been broadened a bit. It also helps to read papers with different views. I had a student once tell me that she never read anything she didn’t agree with. People like her used to be rare. Now it is easier than ever for people to shield themselves from the “danger” of an open mind.
Our next blog will be “A Process for Avoiding Deceiption from FactCheckED.org.