Monday, April 16, 2018

On “praise” and “misery”: A blog post from last week you may have missed.

First comes the praise for PBSO’s performance here in the City of Lake Worth during the electric power outage last Monday night (April 9th) into Tuesday morning. However, the ‘misery’ from The Palm Beach Post marches on.

As much as PBSO was outstanding, our little City is still plagued by terrible headlines laced with “misery” by the headline editor at the Post. Before we get to the ‘misery’ let’s take a look at the praise for PBSO:

“They [PBSO] were manning all the railroad tracks in case any signals were down and they also had extra patrols on the streets, making sure everyone was safe and sound,” she [Lake Worth Mayor Pam Triolo] said. “There were no injuries or crime issues at all. [emphasis added] A lot of people felt their presence so it was very comforting.”

Quote. Concluding paragraph from beat reporter Kevin Thompson’s story in The Palm Beach Post print edition dated Wednesday, April 11th, and headlined, “Lake Worth power outage leaves thousands in the dark”.

However, in the online edition on Tuesday, April 10th, was this headline about a “night of misery”:

Lake Worth power outage: Residents suffer through a night of misery

Misery? Here is another excerpt from the article by Thompson which apparently the headline editor didn’t read:

     Mayor Pam Triolo said she was getting ready for bed when the power went out. “It was out until about 6 this morning,” she said. ‘“I slept most of the time. It was warm, but I had a fan on.”
     Maryann Furth said she lost power for about three hours, but that didn’t bother her. “I’m comfortable without air conditioning,” she said. “We were fine.”
     Michael Chase Flack-Fox said he wasn’t even aware the power was off. . . . “There were little or no problems. I slept right through it.”

From The New York Times’ Learning Network, Chapter 5.2: “Headlines: In a Nutshell”:

An inexperienced editor who has trouble writing a headline might be tempted to try to write a headline on a secondary angle of the article, but a good headline is based on the lead. [emphasis added]

So whilst it may be true it was a “night of misery” for some during the power outage last Monday evening into Tuesday morning in this City of Lake Worth — it’s also true it was just a little miserable for others — for example, “ ‘I didn’t break out the generator, I just broke out the battery back up and plugged in my fan,’ she [a Downtown resident] said.” And there were other residents who were hardly affected by the power outage at all.

And there’s more good news about the power outage earlier this week: There was no need for a curfew!

The headline editor at The Palm Beach Post didn’t
do beat reporter Kevin Thompson any favors
back in Jan. 2016 either:
Remember. A proper headline is based on the lead. The reporter did not use the word ‘curfew’ one single time. So why use the word “curfew” in the headline? Maybe to confuse and frighten the public?