When breaking news headlines go bad

Chron headline


Oh dear.

So breaking news is thrilling. It’s essentially what news organizations are built for. But this is a time here word choice is the most essential.

When the adrenaline is going, you rely on your default more simply because you don’t have time to give things a proper read. This happens a lot with headlines. And here’s one that caught my attention recently.

Bullet reportedly hits HPD officer in Midtown area.

So…in the stomach?

If you’re from Houston, or notice that Midtown is capitalized, you know it’s that trendy part of the city close to downtown. But if you don’t and just read it as is, much like readers probably will, you’re wondering…what is the midtown area?

A better headline would be:

Reports: HPD officer shot during Midtown incident

After all was said and done, this was the headline the Chron went with:

HPD officer shot in the back after traffic stop

Oh, but the FB headline lives on. So just because you can change the headline as the story changes (and you should)  doesn’t mean you can slack on the initial headline. Social media is not that forgiving.


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