Irresponsible headline shows need for peace journalism

By Steven Youngblood, director, Center for Global Peace Journalism

Peace Journalism teaches us that words matter, and that poorly selected words can, among other things, desensitize us to violence. A case in point is the cavalier use of the headline "Hobby Lobby ruling puts Green family in crosshairs" in today’s Kansas City Star and other media outlets.

The offending headline was widely used. A Google search showed the use of "Hobby Lobby ruling puts Green family in crosshairs" on websites belonging to the Associated Press, ABC news, the Arizona Daily Star, and dozens of others.

It’s clear that this headline represents the very antithesis of peace journalism. My colleague Professor John Lofflin, who called my attention to this headline, put it succinctly when he said, “No matter how you feel about the Supreme Court decision on Hobby Lobby, this headline from the Kansas City Star, in this day and age, has got to go. Totally irresponsible. Period.”

Could “In the Crosshairs” in some way encourage violence against the Greens, Hobby Lobby’s owners? This is a stretch, perhaps, but not completely out of the question. I see the headline as part of a bigger picture, one where the commonplace media use of violent imagery delivers an implicit message that there is something normal, or desirable, to putting those with whom we disagree in the crosshairs.

The Star, along with every media outlet that used the offending headline, should immediately pull the headline from its websites, and apologize for its use.

--Follow me on Twitter @PeaceJourn--

Views: 295

Tags: city, hobby, journalism, kansas, lobby, peace, star

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Comment by Luisa Handem Piette on July 2, 2014 at 6:26pm
Thanks for shedding some light on this topic, using pertinent examples. So much work needs to be done at home and abroad to correct those costly flaws.
Comment by Jillian Post on July 2, 2014 at 3:41pm
Point well taken, but cultural competency is an intricate little phenomenon and goes both ways. Being from that part of the country, we use stupid idioms like that all the time. I catch myself using them and have to do a double take, because I certainly don't mean for any literal transition to take place. I understand, that's the point. We need to be aware of the potential for damage. I can almost say with certainty however, that no malice was intended. People from the plains are just folksy and use those phrases without thought.

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