Friday, May 14, 2010

Careless Headlining

Well, "careless" unless it's intended to be "provocative," to use an overused word.

Here's a screenshot from The Daily Beast's Cheat Sheet for today:

As you see, the headline offers the declarative statement NBC Cancels Law & Order. However, a reading of the blurb immediately reveals that a more accurate headline might have been NBC Might Cancel Law & Order or NBC to Cancel Law & Order? or any of a number of other variations. The point is that until NBC makes an announcement, everything is speculative. But the Daily Beast's headline makes it sound like a done deal.

This sort of inattention to detail (which I assume to be the case) is a bad thing in general where reporting is concerned, but in a publication such as Cheat Sheet, which exists primarily to be skimmed, it's especially nasty. I can't believe that I'm the only one who merely peruses the headlines of two-thirds of the daily dose of Cheat Sheet, pausing only occasionally to read the blurb on stories that interest me, very rarely clicking through to the source publication. Except for the fact that I'm interested enough in Law & Order to stop and read the blurb, I would come away thinking that the show's cancellation was a done deal.

Of course, it's only a television show. One hopes the editors of Cheat Sheet would be a little more careful if they're referencing, say, the death of a public figure or a declaration of war or something.