Accuracy in Media

NowThis News is playing the clickbait game.

Take a perfectly reasonable piece of news reporting from Associated Press, stick a monstrously misleading headline on it and watch people visit the site. Advertisements get paid for when people look at the page.

The actual AP piece is about refugees from the fighting in Ukraine. It’s, despite the horror of what it is describing, a perfectly normal piece of on the spot reporting that “[l]ong lines of cars and buses were backed up at checkpoints at the borders of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and non-E.U. member Moldova.” Observe, write down, report.

NowThisNews tops it with this headline: “500,000+ Refugees Have Fled Ukraine, Highlighting Discrepancies in Europe’s Response To Non-White Displaced People.”

The aim is to highlight how different the reaction is between this and what has happened to refugees from Syria, Yemen, or perhaps Afghanistan in recent years. Or maybe just to get people to click through, of course.

NowThis News gains some half million visits a month, which means that it’s big enough to know better. Headlines are supposed to encapsulate the essence of the report which follows, not mislead as to the content.

It’s not even a sensible accusation anyway. The point about the five countries mentioned is that they are the ones that share a border with Ukraine – well, a Ukrainian border that’s not with one of the two countries invading, Belarus and Russia. So, obviously enough, those are the borders the fleeing Ukrainians are crossing. That they’re being let in has nothing to do with any racism in central Europe nor anything like it. It’s standard international law, straight United Nations stuff. Refugees are allowed into the first safe place they can get to as a right, no choices, now permissions, it’s an absolute right.

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