Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Newspaper Peeve

One of my many pet peeves: newspapers using irrelevant descriptors for people.

The headline says something like "Cop killed Saturday," leading you to think that he was killed in the line of duty or was jumped by a gang or something. Instead, it's either a random mugging or a car accident or something. "Firefighter arrested for assault"...with a stranger in a barroom brawl, not a coworker in the fire house or with a recalcitrant resident of a burning building. "Teacher allegedly pointed gun, pulled trigger" his girlfriend in a domestic dispute, not in the classroom.

Does it really matter what the perpetrator or victim of a given crime does for a living? In these cases, I think not. Obviously if someone is arrested for trying to sell a Senate seat, the fact that they're a governor is significant. If they are a convenience store clerk instead, their occupation is most likely not relevant.

Why do newspapers do this? Is it actually to try to generate more interest by suggesting a more intriguing story to your mind? Is it just that they get tired of writing "Woman, 34, shot in domestic dispute" and need something to liven it up a little? Or is it supposed to make you feel more like you know the person by providing personal details? Whichever way, I do not approve.

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