Cleveland Newspaper Exaggerated Crime Story: Critic


The Cleveland Plain Dealer exaggerated headlines last week about Mayor Frank Jackson’s anticrime campaign, writes Ted Diadiun, the newspaper’s reader representative. Comment on the plan, reported by Crime & Justice News, was that it probably would produce more conflict between police and criminals, which would result in more deadly car chases and shootouts. Diadiun says the problem was not the story but the headline, which said, in bold, all-caps type, “CAN THE CITY SURVIVE JACKSON’S ASSAULT ON GUNS?”

Diadiun says the headline “appeared to take a point of view, and went well beyond what was written in the story. There was no talk of the city’s survival in the story.’ Diadiun calls the headline underneath also problematic: “Mayor admits violence will get worse before it gets better.” He says: “Admits” is a loaded word. It has the effect of figuratively rocking the speaker back on his heels, making it look as if he were trying to defend a weak point. “Predicts” would have been more accurate. Or “foresees.” Or even that old standby, “says.” The columnist’s conclusion: “The reach for impact outstripped the quest for precision. The words should have been chosen with more care.”


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