Tag Archives: headlines

Lost in Translation

One of the things I have set up at work is a system to monitor feeds from various information sources like Google Alerts, RSS Feeds, Twitter feeds, Facebook feeds, etc.  One thing I've noticed is that some of the local media outlets let errors creep into their headlines when they translate them for their social media feeds.  I know they try to get out a lot of info in a short amount of time so I understand typos and bad grammar creeping into the stories themselves, but I don't think it's too much to ask that headlines be done right.   Lest you think I'm referencing one or two isolated incidences let me just stroll through my Twitter feed and give you a sampling from the past week, followed by my initial thoughts upon reading the offending headlines:

@myfox8: High Point Police Officer Seriously Injured After Being Rescued from Wrecked Patrol Car http://t.co/BfEhYWK
"Please God don't let me be rescued by the same people."

@WXII: Homes Evacuated By Gas Leak At Vacant House http://bit.ly/p2qBzY  
"What does a gas leak look like when it goes door-to-door?"

Here's an interesting comparison; look at the previous gas leak story headline and compare it to this one at myfox8:
@myfox8: Hwy. 70 Closed in Whitsett Due to Gas Leak http://dlvr.it/bpXgc 
A little more accurate wouldn't you say? 

@myfox8: Fire Closes Wright Brothers Visitors Center Temporarilyhttp://dlvr.it/bx7SR 
"Did the fire have a key?" 

@myfox8: Overturned Grain Truck Closes I-40 Ramp on US 421http://dlvr.it/bvSyt 
"It's a helluva truck that can pick itself up and direct traffic like that."

To be fair, with the possible exception of the first headline, the questionable construct of the headlines won't cause you to misinterpret what the stories are about.  Also, there are probably 100 stories linked to on Twitter without questionable headlines for each headline that contains the kind of error that would make your average 8th grade English teacher turn red with frustration. And, again, I understand how much info they're processing and getting out to their respective audiences, but I still think there must be a lot of old-school editors out there shaking their heads in wonderment at what has become of their industry. 

So, is it unrealistic to hold media companies to the same editorial standards for their social media as we do for their traditional media?


Local news operations now publicize their stories through a variety of media including Twitter and Facebook.  I have no idea how WXII doles out the responsibility for pushing content from their website to Twitter, but they may want to have a chat about how those 140 characters are used.  For a story today the Twitter feed read thusly: "Winston-Salem Jogger Struck By Vehicle http://bit.ly/aB1uqp." On the website the headline was "Job Seeker At Fair Struck By Vehicle" and the first paragraph read:

A man who was running to get in a hiring line for the Dixie Classic Fair on Tuesday morning was struck and injured by an SUV along Deacon Boulevard.

It ain't the end of the world but there's a big difference between jogging and sprinting across the street to a job interview, and I think it behooves the news ops to make sure all of their headlines accurately reflect the content of their stories.