Brian McDermott has some criticism about the news media coverage of the Moslem community center in NYC. He says it’s too easy to push myths and catch phrases. I agree with him and it makes me feel like I’m in the wrong business:
Speaking to Michael Calderone at Yahoo News, AP New York assistant chief Chad Roedemeier said that the slug on the story has always been “Ground Zero mosque,” and that phrase has often appeared in headlines. But he said the wire service has always said the mosque was “near” ground zero in stories.
That distinction isn’t good enough in an age of six-word iPhone headlines, warp speed online skimming, and well-financed PR and political hucksters trying to smoke-bomb plain languge. Whether it’s birthers, Breitbart, or BP, there will always be cynical and reductive operators trying to exploit the uninformed in the age of too much information. The question is why responsible news media doesn’t fight as aggressively to reframe stories with the facts.
Our brains, like search engines, gauge information on a hierarchy, prioritizing headlines and the active nouns and verbs they employ. Copy further down in the story or watery qualifiers like “near” or “so-called” don’t stick in our brains as much, nor do they help a website climb the SEO ladder.