By Trey Rusk
Newspaper editors used to have a saying, "If it bleeds it leads." Eye catching headlines sell news. I can't deny that fact.
Do deceiving headlines harm people? Yes. Let's take a police shooting headline for example. POLICE SHOOT AND KILL JAYWALKER . My goodness! This headline proclaims that a police officer shot and killed a citizen for simply crossing against the light. While the headline is semi-legitimate, it does not describe the incident accurately.
As we continue to read the story it turns out that while detaining a person for jaywalking, the detainee pulled a knife on the police officer and refused the officers' commands to drop the weapon.
Often times police detain people for citation offenses and during the stop the person winds up being wanted, on drugs, drunk or mentally ill. So instead of accepting the ticket, the detainee becomes violent and attempts to harm the officer.
Instead of the headline stating that the officer used deadly force for a legitimate reason, such as attempted capital murder, only the original misdemeanor crime is stated.
This is wrong. The editor of the news outlet knows it's wrong. They would rather slander a police officer's name for the sake of selling news than accurately depict in the headline what actually happened.
This is unfair to the reader and certainly maligns the officer who was in reality protecting himself or others.
My advice to police officers after a critical incident. Don't talk to the press. Period. The media cannot be trusted.
Print news in dying. Sensationalized headlines is just one of the reasons.
That's the way I see it.