Fake headlines equal fake news

Actual Headlines:

Those are actual headlines for the same event.

Which headline packs the emotional hook that gets people sharing a story on social media about a dumb woman distracted by a cell phone?

The first is from the Washington Post and is a fake news headline. This is the version of the story widely shared on social media. The others are from local news and TV news outlets.

From CBS:

The woman’s son said there is a lot more to the story than just another person distracted by a cellphone. He said his mother is legally blind and diabetic.

“She regularly takes on schedule her meals and checks her sugar. As far as I was told, when she was walking down the street, she felt a little nauseous in a sense, and looked at her phone to see what time it was,” the woman’s son said.

….The woman’s son said she has trouble seeing blended colors, and wishes workers had put up some type of indicator or cones to alert people to be careful.

Which headline was distributed nationally?

Variations of the Washington Post fake news story.

Which headline fits a popular urban meme that cellular phone usage will kill us all?

That of the Washington Post. Indeed, WaPo’s fake news story goes in depth in to the distraction of cellular phone usage, with only a single sentence noting her son says she is legally blind and diabetic.

Which headline packed the stronger emotional punch to get people sharing online?

That of the Washington Post.

Which news outlet is using the methods of online, for profit, social media-based publishers?

The Washington Post. This is a sad story that would not make the news except for (a) there was video of the fall, and (b) it fit the narrative of being distracted by cell phones.

It is understandable how the story started out incorrect but it is inexcusable that the media spins the story as walking while distracted by a cell phone, even after briefly acknowledging the victim is legally blind.

When the media cannot report a simple story correctly, what do you think they are doing with complex stories?

 

 

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