Accuracy in Media

Headlines matter. In fact, the majority of people who see a piece probably read no more than just the headline. Which makes this, from Salon, very misleading:

“‘Clearly irked’ judge fines Trump real estate firm $10K a day over probe into inflated assets.”

The way we’ll all read that is that a real estate from owned by former President Donald Trump is being fined by a judge. This would, of course, be terrible because being fined for contempt of court is not a good look, especially for someone possibly intending to run in the next election.

Except that’s not what is happening. As the article itself goes on to explain, “New York Justice Arthur F. Engoron has imposed a daily $10,000 fine on real estate giant Cushman and Wakefield for failing to turn over documents to state investigators examining if Donald Trump inflated the value of his real estate holdings.”

A company that has worked for Trump is being fined by a judge. Which is, we hope we can all agree, something very different. Quite apart from anything else, Trump does not control what documents Cushman & Wakefield turns over, nor when.

The original source that Salon got this news from, The Daily Beast, does not make this mistake. Or intentional error, perhaps.

Salon ranks around 60 in the listings of media sites for law and government. It’s also at the definitely progressive end of the political spectrum and gains some 9 million visits a month from being so. This is where many gain their view of politics.

It’s one of those little secrets of journalism that headlines matter – they’re not just clickbait to get people to read the piece, they’re often all that people do read of a piece. So, put the inflammatory claim in the headline and many will then believe it for that’s all they’ll know of it.

Ready to fight back against media bias?
Join us by donating to AIM today.


Comments are turned off for this article.