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Rumors and Assumptions as News?

By TheLocust in Op-Ed
Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 11:28:32 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)

I'm not too sure who in the world started this trend of phrasing rumours and ill-researched ideas as questions in News article titles, but it's DRIVING ME NUTS!

For those of you who don't know what exactly I'm talking about, it's these articles that are titled like "Microsoft to Form Rogue Nation?". Slashdot is more than guilty of doing this, and unfortunately, other sites have fallen prey to it as well.

Report the truth... Don't pander to the easily enraged.

Now, I am all for phrasing QUESTIONS as QUESTIONS. But, phrasing rumors as questions is just egregiously heinous. I understand "What is the best college for IT?", that's just great. But "College to Emblazon Papa John's Logo on All Diplomas?" is a little ludicrous.

All this practice does is stir up vitriol among the readership. "Jesus was Gay?" See what I mean? Most articles that get posted in this matter produce a lot of flame, and with a definite cause. Attempting to disguise a bit of rumor as a discussion topic is rather silly and ill-advised. Discussion over rumors and ill-founded accusations will surely turn into a modern-day HUAC witch hunt.

So, cut it the hell out. If you want to blather on about rumors and ill-founded accusations, go read this.


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Rumors and Assumptions as News? | 8 comments (3 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
Here here (3.28 / 7) (#2)
by Precious Roy on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 12:02:57 PM EST

As someone who makes a living out of writing headlines (among other newspaper-related things) I agree this practice is misleading at best.

Expressing uncertainty in headlines should be done with words, not by taking something certain and just sticking a question mark on it.

For example, take one of the headlines you used as an example. The concrete, preferably with cited quotes or something provable, is "Napster to be bought," or even better "Foo to buy Napster."

To express that the story/headline cannot be proven, the wording would be "Napster may be bought," or "Foo could buy Napster."

"Napster to be bought?" is highly misleading and basically shows that someone's not willing to make the effort to change a couple of words so the headline could be clearer to readers.

Drudge (3.00 / 6) (#4)
by Beorn on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 01:21:56 PM EST

So, cut it the hell out. If you want to blather on about rumors and ill-founded accusations, go read this.

I know I'm biting the not-well-hidden flamebait here, but imho you'll hardly find worse rumours and ill-founded accusations at Matt Drudge than in other news media. The main difference is that his rumours are more interesting.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]

Especially despicable ... (5.00 / 1) (#8)
by kostya on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 03:56:24 PM EST

In the circumstances where the audience is easily excitable.

Which appears to be any site catering to a select group: Apple fans, OS/2 Diehards, Amiga Faithful, the Linux Faithful, the BSD core, etc. Most of the tech sites I frequent, even the more "journal-like" ones who seem a little more objective, are rampant with rumors and corrections alike. Maybe the sensationalism is an outgrowth of the people who frequent the site? Remember that the titles for Slashdot articles come from the guy who submitted it, not the Slashdot editorial staff.

Perhaps it is caused by people loving to shoot their mouths off? Or wanting to be seen in HTML (as opposed to print)? Whatever the cause, it is a bit annoying since the stupidity ratio on such articles is almost intolerable. Mob mentality kicks in and people start getting real stupid, real quick.

So far K5 quality seems good (at least comparitively). Apparently the group submission method helps cull out these stories. Maybe a section for "Unsubstantiated Fabrications" would help more--or maybe only encourage it.

I personally wonder if a day will come when I must leave K5. Remember, Slashdot used to be fun. But then it got popular. And I think the sheer numbers has a lot to do with Slashdot's current environment. I wonder if K5 will succumb eventual to the masses?

Veritas otium parit. --Terence
Rumors and Assumptions as News? | 8 comments (3 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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