‘The bridge that should never [sic] close’: The damage done by inaccurate headlines is all too real

A screenshot of a cell phone

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Just below the image, the reporter tells the truth:

‘Before the Queensferry Crossing opened in August 2017, its designers claimed it would not be closed by high winds and they have been correct. Instead, an unexpected problem has been detected with ice.’

It’s there, so does it matter? You can hear the editor:

‘We respect our readers’ intelligence! Headlines cannot be too long!’

That the bridge should never close ever at all regardless, has become a popular myth spread by headlines. Its impact is similar to the ‘Once in a lifetime’ myth.

I guess, intuitively, most of us would think it does matter because we have often skimmed newspapers reading only the headlines of many of the articles. I’ve known for decades from empirical research evidence that it is true. Most [80%] readers only scan the headlines and even if they read the full article, their understanding will often remain that which they first got from the headline:

https://www.newyorker.com/science/maria-konnikova/headlines-change-way-think

https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/eight-ten-people-read-headline/1374722

To whom is the damage done? In this case, our Opposition politicians aided by the media made it all too clear that this was the consequence of incompetence by the SNP Government. From Jackson Carlaw:

“The continued closure of the Queensferry Crossing is a damning indictment of this government. Whilst Nicola Sturgeon is swanning about in Brussels, Scots commuters are stuck without vital infrastructure.”

He wasn’t alone:

A close up of a mans face

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Published by johnrobertson834

Retired Professor of Media Politics Not-for-profit independent political analysis

5 thoughts on “‘The bridge that should never [sic] close’: The damage done by inaccurate headlines is all too real

  1. You forgot to add today’s breaking news John! Breaking: one door at Asdas closed due to high winds!

    https://mobile.twitter.com/GarryPryde2/status/1227566251939188740
    (One sweary word warning, but it captures the mood)

    Sorry I can’t cut and paste text on my device – the tweets below the main one give a full list of the devastation throughout the country – we are at a standstill!

    Still haven’t heard anything about it on Radio Scotland,,,

    Liked by 1 person

      1. …and you can tell folk that one of the big ‘turny’ doors at the Gyle centre was stuck yesterday. I had to walk an extra ten steps – AND – go through an ordinary door to get to the barber’s. Had a good mind to text the BBC newsroom.

        It’s that SNP Government and a’ their talk about independence.

        Liked by 1 person

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