Fake headlines?

For a matter of seconds today, sfgate.com, the online web site for the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper, had a headline at the top of the page, highlighted in bright red, as if it was a “breaking news” headline:

“27 Trump Brands to Boycott”

Moments later, a page refresh on two computers and a tablet showed this headline had vanished. I intended to grab a screen capture but the headline story was gone within seconds.  (I was testing an iPad2 tablet that Apple largely bricked with the iOS 9 update and was barely paying attention to the content as that was not my focus. I saw this headline on the tablet. I had just cleared the browser cache and history so this was not something pulled out of the browser cache but was up to date, in real time.)

Generally, newspapers do not engage in direct opinion advocacy at the top of their main web site page. A headline like that, above, is pure propaganda messaging – defined as messaging intended to persuade others to adopt someone’s agenda.

I guess an editor keeps an eye on their web site, providing adult supervision and killed this as fast as possible. That this headline was posted amid a period of heightened sensitivity to fake news is bad as the headline reinforces the view that traditional media use the same methods pioneered by the fake news web sites, creating inflammatory, click bait headlines.

(Note – I did not support Trump or Clinton in the 2016 election.)

Update: Could there have been an ad displaying this text? I don’t think so. When I refreshed the page, the same red bar was there but with a different news headline inserted in its place.

Update: These mistakes happen with others too – IHOP anti-Clinton tweet or “Newspaper apologizes for calling Jesuit “”Nazi Priest”””

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