Twice this week I have raged at headlines online. Headlines with information that just isn’t relevant quite frankly, and twice it has made actually shout out loud. Once instance made me swear on Twitter, and that rarely happens.
The first was the recent story about Aaron Lennon, the footballer. A man who was in need of some support for a mental health issue. What is the headline we see? “£55,000 a week footballer detained under mental health act”. I was so incensed that I “corrected” the headline and then tweeted it to the Daily Mail. Why on earth is his salary relevant? What difference does that make? Does it matter what he earns? No of course it sodding doesn’t.
Why do newspapers insist on putting that kind of thing in their headlines? It happens ALL the time. And if not in the headline, then in the main body of the story. I remember there was a story of a young girl being murdered in Goa a few years ago and the newspaper story that reported it mentioned her mother standing outside their “£350,000 house”. What?! Why? Does that make any difference to the story? Is it in the slightest bit relevant? No of course it isn’t. As Aaron Lennon’s salary isn’t.
On the eve of Mental Health Awareness week and this is how the Daily Mail is still reporting mental health issues. Not in any way that is supportive or sympathetic but sensationalist and containing info about his salary. The first words of the headline about his salary. Is it any wonder that as a society we still struggle to discuss mental health when this is what people have to put up with? Especially men. And especially those in sport. Freddie Flintoff has spoken openly about his struggles with depression, but also of how opening up about it in the first instance was for a man in his position.
And this won’t help.
The second headline that made me rage, the one that made me swear on Twitter was this one. Five hours after an 11 year old girl died in a tragic accident at a theme park:
We are told that the young girl attended a Muslim school. And?
Same rage about it being so not relevant. SO NOT RELEVANT. What are we supposed to do with that information? 11 years old and on a day out and this is the headline that a newspaper chooses to share online. Her parents are still notifying members of their extended family, maybe explaining to siblings their sister is not coming home. And this is what is being reported.
It makes me furious.
Why do newspapers insist on doing this? It’s not even sensationalist and designed to make us click through to the article. Neither of those statements does that. The newspapers probably argue that it is just reporting the facts, and on the face of it, yes they are facts. But do we need them? Do we need to have those facts? Do they help us a form an opinion on the developing story?
I seriously hope that no editor ever thinks that my opinion is going to be swayed by either a salary or a religion of somebody on whom they are reporting.