Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Could A Headline Be More Loaded?

Come off it, NYT, this one's not even subtle: "Senate Removes Abortion Option for Young Girls."

Here's a question for you, slot-editor-who-wrote-that-hed (I assume, unless a higher-level editor did it, in which case the slant and misleading nature is even more egregious). Let's say the Senate had voted down S403, which prohibits adults taking minors across state lines for an abortion without a parent's permission and in order to evade parental notification laws. Let's say you disagreed with that outcome. Would you have written, "Senate Approves Abduction of Teen-aged Girls"?

Because that would be about as precise and nuanced as the hed that currently tops the article.

And don't tell me there was no way to fit a more neutral construction. I spent a few years on nightside copy and city desks myself, back in the day, and the same techniques and parameters apply for newspapers big and small. How about, "Senate Bans Evasion of Parental Notification Laws"? Sure, that's not as sexy, but it does have the virtue of of avoiding editorializing-by-implication on a freakin' hard news story.

Does the NYT just flat-out not care anymore about preserving the distinction? I'm not one to believe that journalists are as purposely partisan as they're accused of being, but crap like this sure makes it hard to defend that position.