Headlines and FUD – fear, uncertainty, doubt

I’m sure you know that headlines are meant to be provocative and to entice you to read the article. It has always been a pet peeve of mine that most headlines are also mis-leading. How about this headline for example: “Home Sales Plunge by 8 Percent.” Why, how awful! How could such a thing happen? Those poor people trying to sell their houses. Reading the article is just as bad. It is full of words of doom and gloom like worst slump, slowest pace, weakness, pressure on sales, decline, turmoil, worries, drag, severe, fears, threats and my favorite, ‘worse than expected.’

It always makes me wonder if the writers of articles like these had to take a class in how to write a pessimistic news article. Or is it perhaps just their general state of mind? You would think that at least one writer looking at the same news could have reported it this way: “Falling home prices mean more people can afford houses.” Of course, anyone who has been following the housing ‘crisis’ (why is everything always a crisis?) know that it was caused by home buyers getting adjustable rate mortgages with the belief that home values would go up.

When I worked in computer sales many moons ago, we used to describe a technique used by IBM salesreps as the ‘FUD’ factor – fear, uncertainty and doubt. We would invite our clients to purchase a new computer system that was not an IBM and they, in doing their due diligence would contact IBM to get a competing quote. There’s nothing wrong with that as I do that myself on large purchases. The IBM rep would invariably say to our client, “Are you sure you want to do that? What if that company goes out of business? Can you afford to make a mistake like that?” I think the same technique is used by the writers at AP and Reuters.

What a difference in the headlines when you visit the lds.org newsroom. Each headline invites the reader to learn more about some good thing that the church is doing. A large percentage of the articles focus on good works of the members. Of course you’re not likely to see a negative news article on lds.org but at least every headline I see there is truthful and actually pertains to the content of the story. Well done to the people at church headquarters who do the newsroom. They are being true to the trust that we place in them – to uplift, motivate and inspire.

What do you think of the church’s newsroom? Honest news or one-sided PR?

One thought on “Headlines and FUD – fear, uncertainty, doubt”

  1. Yay for Church news! I think they do a fantastic job, and I don’t believe it’s a PR job at all–simply honest reporting of good things happening.I hopped over from your Holistic blog and can see I’ll have to add this one to my favorites list, too. :-)I agree re depressing headlines and disturbing content. The reporting isn’t going to change anything, so why not be upbeat wherever they can. Even the horrific fire conditions in California have a positive side–the wonderful outpouring of love and help from San Diego neighbors. I read someone’s blog who lives there and he said his family were gathering items to take to the stadium, when they found out there was more than enough already received for the day. There are huge numbers of people in there. Wonder if that will make the headlines?

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