In addition to stenography, media damages the quality of information through misleading headlines. Here is an example sent to me by an In-Sights reader. It is a Kamloops Daily News article written for reporter Jason Hewlett. The headline:
The headline is drawn from comments by one Ray Pillar, who is identified as a Political Science Professor of Thompson Rivers University, perhaps known to some as Cariboo College. I looked for information about Professor Pillar but found almost none. There is no one by that name listed on the college’s website, even on the faculty list for Philosophy, History and Politics.
Additionally, an extensive Google search produces no papers authored by a political scientist of that name. Yet, his comment is headlined despite the general context of the article suggesting something different. I wrote the newspaper asking for comment about their source but heard no response. I also left this opinion on the Kamloops Daily News website:
Pillar speaks one person’s opinion, his own version of truth, to which he is entitled. However, he has not been paying attention if he thinks there are no discussions of policy underway in the NDP leadership campaign. There are many great proposals which would reverse the corrupt giveaways of public assets that BC Liberals engage in.
John Horgan, for example, wants a fair taxation commission so that, instead of focusing on a single tax (HST), we review the entire revenue structure of government, including medical fees, ICBC rates, BC Hydro rates, property taxes, user fees, water and gas royalties (or lack of), federal transfers, personal income taxes, corporate income taxes, etc. Anyone who thinks that fair taxation is only about a yes or no on HST is uninformed.
Adrian Dix has talked about making post-secondary education accessible to all and suggested a program to reform delivery of public healthcare. All candidates want to see improved environment oversight and scientific evaluation of hydraulic fracturing in the province’s northeast. They also question the spending of public funds to build roads and other facilities for the gas production industry.
The entire NDP wants to see an honest and independent examination of government corruption related to BC Rail and the Agricultural Land Reserve. They want to see an end to secret no-bid contracts for multi-billion dollar projects like the Port Mann Bridge and they want BC Liberals to reveal the details of hidden shadow tolls on the Sea to Sky Highway and the Bennett Bridge.
Ray Pillar may think the NDP remains divided and has no platform but he could not be more incorrect. If he is indeed a working political scientist, he does disservice to his profession for such an inane opinion. I also suggest that Jason Hewlett’s piece is a perfect example of stenographic journalism as discussed here.
Another example of an hysterical and misleading headline was this one by CNN:
Tests detect radioactivity on 17 U.S. Navy crew members in Japan.
The actual story was this:
Tests detected low levels of radioactivity on 17 U.S. Navy helicopter crew members when they returned to the USS Ronald Reagan after conducting disaster relief missions in Japan, the military said Monday. No further contamination was detected after the crew members washed with soap and water, the Navy said.
After publishing this article, I exchanged communications with the editor of the Kamloops Daily News. It turns out the expert Ray Pillar was a retired university administrator who had returned to teach two sections for an instructor on medical leave. The correspondence is detailed in my article: