Monday, November 19, 2007

Who writes the headlines at the Courant?

This morning the Washington Post published an article, headlined, Advances, Not Approval for Bush. It's a fair reflection of the story's content. The Hartford Courant picked up the story and suddenly the headline was a much more pro-Bush, double headline at the top of page A3 (at least in the Middletown edition) Bush Beginning to Rebound With Iraq Quieting, President's Political Fortune Looking Up Again. And don't try to find an online version of the Courant piece. It's not there.

In the Courant's version of the headline, unlike the Post's there is no indication that there is no movement in the public's approval of the President.

So what are we to make of it? First of all, it's a non-story likely peddled to the Post on a Sunday when real news is hard to come by. It's a PR piece positing the notion that because violence in Iraq is down to 2006 levels (is that really an accomplishment), and Bush has found his veto pen in the second-to-last year of his presidency (since Congress is no longer sending him bills he likes, or can easily wiggle out of with a signing statement), that he is somehow going to be able to salvage his presidency. The remainder of the article, if you read that deeply, indicates how unlikely it is for the president to salvage his "legacy."

And that's the point. Many people don't read articles like this one beyond the headlines. And whoever wrote the headline and placed the story at the Courant, gave the Prez a nice PR boost. Kind of like an ad. Big headline, with a long subhead, and you've almost got and advertorial.

Shame on the Courant and the editor, who obviously constructed the headline and placement for shamelessly partisan reasons.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I read the very same headline this morning with a sinking feeling of despair. So I read further, with fear, until I got about 1/3 through the article. That's where I found a passing reference to the fact that "the public at large... still gives Bush record-low approval ratings." At that point I relaxed a bit and finished breakfast. "Record-low"? OK, so nothing's really changed, right? I didn't even bother with the rest.

But I do agree with you, and I had exactly the same reaction. This is a classic case of the headline contradicting the story, and it does certainly appear to be intended to influence opinions. Sometimes it's eerie how alike we think on many issues.

Shame on the Courant and the editor, who obviously constructed the headline and placement for shamelessly partisan reasons.

There seems to be a tug-of-war (no pun intended) going on over at the Courant. Unfortunately, good journalism and the readers are losing out lately.

As often as I've been disappointed that the paper didn't cover an important national news story over the last several years, I've been impressed when they did. Many times it was with a bit of pride that I could pass on a valuable, out of the mainstream piece that that I could honestly claim came straight from my local paper -- a paper that endorsed Bush twice. There aren't so many of those stories being published lately. Or maybe I'm just not reading carefully enough anymore.