Turning inner space into outer space

February 22, 2012

Headline writing on the Internet not for the faint of heart

A headline writer at ESPN was fired for this stupid headline about a basketball player of Asian decent: Chink in the Armor: Jeremy Lin’s 9 Turnovers Cost Knicks in Streak-stopping Loss to Hornets.

There is no question he should be in another line of work. If your job is to write headlines, you should darn well be aware of the multiple meanings and connotations of words. He clearly wasn’t and so we wish him the best of luck in his new career.

There is the question, though, of whether the headline writer should be held solely responsible. After all, you would think an organization the size of ESPN would have editors checking headlines — and all other content — before it is posted.

I’m guessing that he was in fact an editor. As big as ESPN may be, I can’t see them having people whose job description consists only of headline writing. This person likely also copy edited the story, and was trusted to create a suitable headline without supervision.

Another factor is the fast turnarounds we now have with the Internet. Someone used to the pace of a daily newspaper and plenty of editors might feel they could dash off a headline knowing they have the safety net of fellow editors to save them from any folly.

With the Internet, getting it right is more important than ever. Your mistakes are instantly exposed, and may be seen by millions of people before you can make a correction. Think twice before you post.