Friday, April 13, 2007


More on journalistic standards--are Hawaii beaches dangerous?

The cover of this week's Honolulu Weekly is ominous indeed: a black grenade nestled in the otherwise pristine sand and a headline in black stencil-style typeface: "Washed Ashore". Yikes! The sub-head is "The Army says ordnance reef is safe. Locals disagree." Well, sure, I would disagree if I ever found a hand grenade washed up on the beach!

Except that if you go to page 6 to read the alarming news, hidden in the lower left corner of another picture, this one of a grenade still wet and covered with seaweed, you'll find tiny white type that explains "We took a bit of artistic license with the cover image. As far as we know, our beaches are grenade free."

I wonder what tourists in Waikiki will think as they pass newspaper racks where the Weekly cover is displayed. Even those who have trouble with English and might not pick up a copy of the paper will conclude that Hawaii's beaches are dangerous. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words in any language.

Perhaps they won't come back next time. Worse, perhaps they'll take a copy of the paper back with them to warn their friends and family.

Visitors to the Weekly's website don't even get a disclaimer.

The almost hidden clarification can't undo the damage done by this unfortunate exercise of journalistic license.


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