Build Your Own Baloney Detector

A tool-kit for avoiding being fooled

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Headlines that Disagree with their Stories

I recently read an article about workers using medical leave as a way of avoiding performance improvement guides. At least, that’s what the headline said. And admittedly, the first few paragraphs said that, too. At least, they were about one specific case of this. But as I read down the article, I was surprised to see that when it presented the hard data on medical leave and why people have been taking it, the reporter admitted that no one knows why the leave is specifically taken. In other words: there is no real data, other than anecdotes, to support the claim.

This happens not infrequently (weasel word! I know) in journalism. The headlines aren’t necessarily written by the reporter. The editor could well slap a title on there and may not understand the story well enough to summarize it accurately or may even not care about accuracy as much as getting attention. In fact, even an accurate headline is often rather hyperbolic about what the story actually contains, probably for this reason

So what? Read the entire story and don’t trust the headlines.

posted by John Weiss at 16:21  

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