Saturday, May 1, 2010

Arianna Huffington, Fix This Problem.

Dear Arianna:

   Please, please please fix your headlines. It's bad enough that your headline writers regularly overstate the story, make casual errors or prove to be so disconnected from the facts that  that I simply skip to the text before believing anything and view the headline with disgust.

But it's a problem of another magnitude  when, in the midst of a very heated and ugly debate, your headline writer confuses a band of drug smugglers with illegal immigrants and ends up linking immigrants to the shooting of a cop.

(For the record, since I see this story has been updated a number of times, the headline on the early story read "Arizona Deputy Shot, Illegal Immigrants Suspected" but made no mention of undocumented people or suspects, and simply referred to drug smugglers.)

You've got to address this problem. Until then, your site is just another unreliable site pretending to do journalism. Hire some decent editors.

Update: This is from the Arizona Republic and underscores the need to get these descriptions right. After much discussion of the drug smuggling in the area where the deputy was wounded, and of the new immigration law, the Republic reports this:

Pinal County Lt. Tami Villar said Friday's incident "sends a very powerful and loud message that we have a problem." She added that the shooters are Hispanic men who "appear to be undocumented."
So, no one has been arrested; no one is identified but they "appear to be undocumented."  Are smugglers also illegal immigrants? I think that stretches the definition and confuses two groups of people with very different agendas. The very last thing to worry about when it comes to drug smugglers, I'd think, would be their right, or lack of it, to enter the country. But it certainly plays nicely into the stereotype that "illegals" are something to be feared, doesn't it?

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