Saturday September 22, 2012

On headlines ...

Editor of the Reformer:

I was recently told by an editor at the Reformer that sometimes sensational headlines are chosen in order to catch the readers’ eye.

Last week there was an article about Bellows Falls that had the dramatic heading "BFPD seeing ‘fair share’ of sex crimes" (Sept. 13). Yet when one reads the article, the words "sex crimes" were mentioned only briefly, while other equally important issues and hopeful news was offered in much more greater detail. The Reformer may grab ones attention with a headline like this, but in the end, it continues to sensationalize legitimate issues the community is facing and perpetuates negative, unnecessary stereotypes.

Folks in the Bellows Falls area are working hard to make it a more thriving community. Instead of continuing to spread negative stereotypes to try and grab attention of your readers, the Reformer might want to consider the influence it has in promoting more positive news. Bad news needs to be reported, yes, but why do you have to continue the "sex sells" mentality if it’s harmful to folks in the long run? Words have power, so please consider that the next time you want to sensationalize a story about the people being written about.

Robin Rieske,

Brattleboro, Sept. 19

Editor’s note: No editor recalls making such a statement to Ms. Rieske. In fact, it is the belief of the editorial board that while some papers choose such tactics to sell papers, we try very hard not to sensationalize local news coverage.