Monday, February 14, 2005

From the Idiotic Headline Department

This isn't exactly breaking news by now, but I came across this article today on the recent mall shooting in Kingston, New York.

Summary: A guy walks into a mall, pulls out a rifle, opens fire striking several bystanders, runs out of ammunition, whereupon he is tackled and subdued by a couple mall employees, and finally taken into police custody.

Yet, the AP manages to pull this headline out of its ass?

Alleged Mall Gunman Had Columbine Interest

"Alleged"? Did they even READ their own account of the incident?

I dunno, maybe it's me. I could just be reading this wrong. Perhaps the question of whether or not the shooting occurred in an actual shopping mall has yet to be resolved.

Or maybe there are doubts as to the shooter's gender, or gender identity issues that I'm not aware of, mandating that the writer refer to him as an "alleged" gunman. Though, I have yet to hear of any women's rights groups pushing for universal application of the term "gunperson" in stories like this one.

My theory (and, as is most often the case, I'm sticking to it) is that the writer, Michael Hill, wrote the headline, "Mall Gunman Had Alleged Columbine Interest". This headline actually fits the context of the story (I know, God forbid), but also has the apparently undesired effect of downplaying any plausible connection to the Columbine shootings. And what self-respecting AP editor would allow that to happen?

A little cut-n-paste, in the name of sensationalizing the news, and there's your headline.