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Headlines That Don’t Quite Mean It!

“Police seize possessions of rough sleepers in crackdown on homelessness”

I saw that and couldn’t help but wonder exactly what a crackdown on homelessness is. One might hope that it’s providing them with shelter. I mean, if there’s a crackdown on crime, you expect police to by stopping crime from happening, so logically a crackdown on homelessness would lead to less homelessness.

But no, when you read the article, they weren’t even arrested and given a bed for the night; they merely had their possessions seized. Basically, the concept seemed to be that if you didn’t have a home, then you weren’t capable of looking after a sleeping bag or food.

The police were quoted as saying that they were “reducing the negative impact of homelessness”. Yes, the negative impact seems to be all those passers-by seeing the homeless with possessions.

I know it must be a challenge making up dozens of headlines, but you’d think that the sub-editors would get sick of using bad puns in their headlines. Sometimes the pun seems more important than the meaning of the headline, but when it comes to puns, I think the 2016 front-runner for ignoring political correctness has to be the headline and sub-heading from “The Herald-Sun” about Cameron White followed by the comment on Chris Gayle.

“WHITE MAN FOR THE JOBStand-in skipper keeps Gades alive as Gayle fails again

And, after my comments on framing the other day, though, I couldn’t help wonder about the ABC’s spin on the Newspoll about the GST.

“Newspoll: More than one-third of voters back GST increase”

When you read the text, it actually tells us that thirty seven percent are “open” to a GST rise. Now I don’t know about you, but I think that there’s a big difference between being open to something and backing it. I don’t expect anyone to be booking me a personal trainer just because I said that I was “open” to the idea of doing a little more exercise.

And, of course, I couldn’t see the actual question anywhere. It may have been locked behind Murdoch’s paywall, but it doesn’t seem to be being easily available. Questions can easily be loaded. There’s a big difference between being asked “Would you consider a rise in the GST to support health and education” and “Are you happy to consider a rise in the GST or would it cause you to join a motorcycle gang?”

Still, using this as a precedent, I’m expecting to see future headlines from the ABC website such as “Shorten backed by over a quarter of voters” or “Turnbull doesn’t have full support of Australians as preferred PM”.

Of course, on the preferred PM thing, much is being made of Turnbull’s ascedancy over Shorten but there are two points to be made. The first point is that Opposition leaders rarely lead incumbents. Admittedly, Shorten’s is rather extreme, but elections can still be lost when there’s a big difference between the PM and the Opposition leader. A more telling figure is the two-party preferred. The second point is that neither the prefered PM nor the two party figure tell us how rusted on that support is. If I have to vote as to whether I listen to Justin Beiber or One Direction, I don’t really care about the outcome and something could easily sway me to pick the other, but if I have to choose between listening to Patti Smith or the speeches of John Howard, I can be pretty sure that nothing in the next six months is going to make me change my choice.

Anyway, we’re talking about headlines and over the years there have been some beauties:

“Homicide Victims Rarely Talk To Police”

“Tiger Woods plays with his own balls, says Nike”

“Statistics Show Teen Pregnancy Drops Off Significantly After Age 25”

“Dead Body Found In Cemetery”

But it’s hard to argue with this one:

:soft balls



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  1. kerri

    When hubby turned the TV to nine last week and the headline was “Leap of Faith” for a story about a priest who was rescued from the tower of a burning church by fireman with an extended ladder, I admonished him!
    “See! This is why I don’t watch commercial news services!”

  2. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    “Police seize possessions of rough sleepers in crackdown on homelessness”.

    I think that headline puts the police into a very bad light for both incompetence in providing effective solutions to homelessness – and for a fascist response to the most vulnerable.

    So, that makes me wonder whether the headline writer is a closet sympathiser for the homeless – or just very bad at her/his job!

  3. kasch2014

    To put another spin on “crackdown” – maybe they could get female (even male!) police to choke them in their sleep by sitting on their heads?

  4. diannaart

    Taking away homeless people’s possessions – WTF? Words fail me.

    As for ABC – just last night on ABC 774, I heard Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders described as the Democrats’ equivalent to Donald Trump. Words fail me yet again.

    Seems that just being left of centre is extremist these days….

  5. Kyran

    Not sure if I’m on the right track here, but doesn’t ‘Treasurer for Sale’ come into the frame? A headline was totally appropriate when taken in the context of the article, but defamatory if taken on its own ‘merits’.
    Like yourself, Rossleigh, I saw the ABC GST headline and thought “I’ve been abducted by aliens, this can’t be real”. Having read diannaart’s comment regarding seizure of assets, I recalled that Denmark wants to seize the assets of asylum seekers for the same nefarious reasons. The ‘legal’ notion that a headline can dictate public opinion is still being defined. If it’s defined ‘legally’, this will likely be the only achievement of the last treasurer. In the meantime, in the real world, maybe Newscorpse has the right idea. Are we really this shallow?
    Thankyou, Rossleigh. I think I have a better chance with the alien’s. Take care

  6. silkworm

    That article on cracking down on the homeless was from the UK Independent, and is over two years old.

  7. Geoff Andrews

    Shirly Strictland was an Australian hurdler Gold Medalist in the late 1950’s.
    The caption on a low angle photo of her in full flight over a hurdle was:
    “Shirly Stretches It Out In Training Yesterday”.

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