Sunday, February 06, 2011
This unfortunate headline at least made some editor giggle
by Larry Geller
Advocates for the homeless are probably not amused by today’s Star-Advertiser headline, though it was probably good for a laugh in the newsroom or wherever they work on the next day’s paper.
To look at today’s front page, you’d think we were living in the old slums of Calcutta.
“Homeless hordes?” Come on, now. It made a cute alliterative headline, but there are no “horde”s in Honolulu, and the term is exceedingly disrespectful, particularly to those who have lost their homes through no fault of their own. By losing their job at a newspaper, for example.
The article doesn’t support the headline. It refers to only an “estimated 100 homeless campers.” They wouldn’t describe a much larger group at a rally, theater production, gubernatorial inauguration, etc., as a “horde.”
Headlines do matter, and I wish the paper would think twice about their effect.
This January 12 headline was bad enough, glaring from newspaper boxes all over Waikiki. What could tourists have thought about their safety? Would they recommend Hawaii to others? Who wants to get shot on vacation anyway?
The headline appeared not only in newspaper boxes, of course, but also on the Internet. Anyone checking out the possibility of Hawaii as a vacation or business destination might have found it. Anyone checking the Newseum web page for that day’s front page saw this.
Now they’ve done it again.
Alliterative headlines are cute, but in a sophomoric way. When I was a sophomore on the college newspaper (The Polytechnic Reporter) we spent far too much time concocting these. My all-time favorite was “Polymen pull prank, paint Pratt popgun.” There was an annual fraternity prank that Poly and Pratt pulled on each other, and that year, Polymen painted a cannon on their nearby campus as their contribution. We very much wanted to add the word “pink” to the headline, but unfortunately the popgun was painted orange.
The inside (continuation) head was “Raid results reported: roguish redecoration revamps rival’s relic”.
Boy, were we proud of those. In a sophomoric way, of course.
People get an impression from a city’s newspaper. I suggest the Star-Advertiser pay a little more attention to its role in forming that impression. My Oahu is neither bristling with guns nor overcome by hoards of homeless people. Dear editors, you can do better.
Agreed, how many element of business and life are regulated to standards of professionalism. Indeed, freedom of speech is to be protected, but those entrusted with the ability to speak to thousands ought to at least have a little respect and decorum related to that RESPONSIBILITY.
Besides the juvenile behavior, there is enough media and communications that are outright owned by financial and weaponry sales interests that I have lost 90% of any respect the media used to command through in depth reporting of things that actually served to make things better.