If I were like the Huffington Post, this would be a compelling yet deceptively irrelevant headline.
May 8, 2008 5:18 AM   Subscribe

What's the point of this headline vs. body text bait-and-switch technique?

For over 24 hours, this article has been linked on the Huffington Post's front page as "TOP DEMOCRATS TELL CLINTON IT'S OVER"; the headline on the article page itself says "Top Democrats Tell Clinton The Race Is Over".

However, from what I can tell, the article is from May 6 (the day of the IN/NC primaries, not the day after) and is basically a write-up about both candidates' last-minute campaign efforts. It makes no mention of the post-primary state of the race whatsoever, and definitely doesn't provide anything even remotely resembling what the headline promises.

I'd think that it was a mistake, but note that as I said above it has been up like this for over a day, multiple readers have pointed out the disconnect in the comments, and I can only assume multiple readers will have alerted HuffPo staff to it by now.

So I'm still cautiously open to that explanation, but assuming it was intentional: what reasoning could be behind this, other than simply baiting for eyeballs?
posted by pantone292 to Media & Arts (8 answers total)
Nedra Pickler. It sounds like she was a journalism school dropout.
posted by JJ86 at 5:29 AM on May 8, 2008

Nedra Pickler didn't have anything to do with that headline. She wrote the article for the AP, and various newspapers/blogs can put it under whatever headline they write. In USA Today, it had an entirely different, appropriate headline. So don't blame Nedra.

Someone at HuffPo messed up, or is intentionally jerking people around. Unless some Mefite works for HuffPo, I don't we'll be able to resolve which it is.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:51 AM on May 8, 2008

Uh, yeah. Normally in newspapers (and I guess blogs emulating newspapers, like the huffpo) headlines are written by a headline editor, and stories are written by the journalist, which can lead to some pretty messed up contradictions. One recent example would be This, as noted on Talking Points Memo. Ben smith at the politico was talking about how some voters knew about Rev. Wright and still thought Obama was a Muslim. The headline:
"Is the fact that Obama's Muslim and his pastor Christian a problem?"
posted by delmoi at 6:04 AM on May 8, 2008

CNN does that all the time- the link on the front page says one thing and the headline says another and the body of the article doesn't agree with either.

It's not bait and switch, because that's a specific crime in the retail world. But it is the same concept. It is a crossing of some kind of journalism ethics, but it's not really wrong. They can print whatever they want. They will suffer the consequences, be they loss of trust or libel.
posted by gjc at 6:19 AM on May 8, 2008

The headline did its job: it got you to click on the link and read the article. I think that explains the point of such a headline.
posted by OlderThanTOS at 7:16 AM on May 8, 2008

This is pretty much how Digg works nowadays: "CONFIRMED: Clinton Accepted Bribes from Al Qaeda!!!" Annoying and dishonest. But when the din in the room become a roar, the easy way to be heard is to be outlandish and -if necessary- lie. A lot of Huffington's material ends up on Digg.
posted by yeti at 7:44 AM on May 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yes, just want to emphasize that reporters almost never write their own headlines, and rarely have input in the process.
posted by phrontist at 7:47 AM on May 8, 2008

I've recently become very disenchanted with Slate for similar reasons. It seems almost every day there is some BIG CRAZY HEADLINE with story that does not support it.
posted by blapst at 8:24 AM on May 8, 2008

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