Opinion Editor Ali Amir Mustansir found this news story particularly stirring and questioned the journalistic principles the writer and editor may or may not have considered in the reporting. Check out the story, then read on.
This story has a few important takeaways that Beth and I noted.
– The headline focuses on the first half of the story, which colors the Imam a certain way. But, the second half of the story shows a different person. As journalists, we know that most readers will only look at the first part of a story. They tend to lose interest about halfway through. Like Beth said, “If I have to scroll, I stop reading.” [Oh, it’s true.] It is important that we keep in mind that the headline has to encompass the whole story. To do otherwise gives the appearance of bias.
– These quotes are five years old (2005) and said in Australia. It’s old news. And it is being used as the lede. The correlation is a stretch, especially when combined with the comments buried at the bottom of the story. The information could be out of context or no longer valid.
When writing we need to keep these things in mind. Or we will lose face and credibility.
Also, in terms of readership:
– ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ in the headline ensures hits. It’s a hot topic right now. This headline ensures it will pop up when someone does a google search. Furthermore, Al Qaeda will also draw hits. [Note from the search engine optimization (SEO) training session from Keeli Garza yesterday: Specific, searchable terms in headlines and keywords will ensure your story will be spotted in the wild, wild web. Take advantage of this. But be accurate. Double check to make sure that you are representing the whole story, and not just part of the story.]
Good stuff, Ali. So, here’s my question: What do you think? Is the story biased? Are we crazy? Speak!