Accused Bad Headline Suggester Found Guilty

I think the
poor writing in the Mercury
is starting to rub off on its readers.

This
is a letter to the editor from yesterday’s paper.

Dear Editor – A large, bold headline on the front page of your July 24 edition prompts me to write this letter.

“Accused baby killer was a ‘role model,’ ” it reads.

Baby killer is a term that carries a lot of negative emotions and the reader is led to believe by those words alone that this accused woman is despicable and hateful.

As one reads the accompanying article, a picture of a young mother with mental health issues is brought forth — a mother who is described as being happy and calm and comfortable being with her babies.

Perhaps a more appropriate, less emotionally charged headline would read “Accused mother was a role model.”

— Marian Knight, Guelph

Ok, let’s break this bad boy down.

The term “baby killer” is negative. It’s negative because it’s supposed to be negative. The woman in question isn’t accused of taking the kids out for ice-cream or joining Big Sisters so she could be a role model to a few more of them, she’s accused of murdering her children.

Speaking of accused, that word is there because she hasn’t yet been found guilty or innocent. She’s still on trial, and people on trial have been referred to as the accused for longer than you and I have been alive…added together. I have no idea how old you are, but I still say this without hesitation because it’s fact.

Then there’s the matter of your suggested replacement headline.

“Accused mother was a role model.”

There’s a reason, one that should be plainly obvious to every person reading this, why they didn’t go with that. In fact it’s so obvious that I already covered it. The woman standing in court is not accused of being a mother, she’s supposedly a baby killer. If she was hauled into court on charges of getting the kids to soccer on time, then your idea would work. But since she isn’t, it doesn’t.

There was no other way they could have written that headline. Headlines are supposed to be not only attention grabbing and informative, but also accurate. I haven’t always been the biggest fan of the way the paper says things, but in this case they win on all counts.

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