Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Keeping Our Heads Up

BAGnewsNotes has cited an interesting effort during World War II to measure the effect of headlines on civilian morale.

Read about the study by Gordon Allport. The page doesn't allow any copying of text, so you'll have to go to the link to read it.

Not surprisingly, TV headlines about the NOAA's predictions about the hurricane season were scarier than those carried by others, at the same time.

NOAA itself, despite one of the worst graphics of all time (It looks as if it were put together with Microsoft Word Art), took a calmer, down the middle approach.
Residents in Hurricane Prone Areas Urged to Make Preparations

The Associated Press took a decidedly cautious approach, with the headline even more careful than the story.
Experts: Hurricane Season Won't Match '05
By LAURA WIDES-MUNOZ, Associated Press Writer
MIAMI - The next Atlantic hurricane season could produce up to 16 named storms, six of them major hurricanes, suggesting another active year but not the record pounding of 2005, scientists said Monday.

But good old CNN went full tilt, no doubt hoping for more thrilling pictures of hapless news talkers being knocked over by the wind and rain.
Busy Atlantic season could bring up to 10 hurricanes
(CNN) -- The 2006 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be an active one, with up to 10 of the big storms, the National Hurricane Center announced Monday.

Then there are these two very different headlines, which appeared exactly this way on Yahoo's little news summary on its e-mail service.

FTC: Some Gas Price Gouging After Katrina (AP)
FTC gasoline price probe finds nothing illegal (Reuters)

This would seem to be more than just a difference in tone. While both could be true, which fact is more important, that there was some gouging or that it isn't illegal?
The New York Times went with the not-illegal angle and a little beyond: Gas Prices Legitimate, Study Says.
Here are some others:
Chicago Tribune: Industry absolved in rise of gas price; Report by FTC finds the markets worked after '05 hurricanes

Ft. Worth Star-Telegram: FTC: Price gouging wasn't widespread

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: FTC: Little gas price gouging

Los Angeles Times: Drivers See Slip in Gas Prices; It is the first substantial decline since February. An FTC study finds some gouging but no market manipulation after the hurricanes

St. Paul Pioneer Press: FTC finds little Katrina gas price gouging

Washington Post: Gas Prices Not Manipulated After Katrina, FTC Says; Market Conditions, Not 'Gouging,' Led to Higher Costs

USAToday: FTC finds little gouging on gas prices after Katrina

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