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For global warming reporters, its all about the headline

April 14, 2011

Climate change affects tectonic plate movement, causing earthquakes: study | The Raw Story.

I must admit, I suck at writing headlines (maybe I just suck at writing?).  Not like this is news to my readers, my headlines are usually droll interrogative statements made to portray my inquisitive and thoughtful mind, or they are droll exclamatory statements made to portray my shocked and awed mind, in either case, my headlines lack that punch, that sabre-like ability to cut to the truth of a matter and almost tell the story in and of themselves.  Such is the case with this headline from The Raw Story:

Climate change affects tectonic plate movement, causing earthquakes: study

Seems simple enough right?  Just state the premise of the story in a somewhat concise statement and you have your headline.  Tactics of effective headline writing notwithstanding, lets look at the article this headline alludes to.  Here is the lede:

Scientists have for the first time shown a link between intensifying climate events and tectonic plate movement in findings that could provide a valuable insight into why huge tremors occur.

Understanding why plates change direction and speed is key to unlocking huge seismic events such as last month’s Japan earthquake, which shifted the Earth’s axis by several inches, or February’s New Zealand quake.

Tucked in the back of the newsroom between the water cooler and the trashcan basketball hoop, the prefab walls of the climate reporters cubicle must be a hodge-podge of clippings, autographed pictures of Al Gore, and a chart.  This chart is of the utmost importance to the global warming writer, for it lays out in actuarial precision, how to write an article on the murder of the Earth.  The most important information one can glean from this guideline is how many paragraphs the climate change “true believer” will typically read in a news story.  The key number? 5 usually, 6 at most.  Hey, science isn’t about specifics.

So if we continue to read this article, presumably about how global warming is causing ever deadlier earthquakes, we reach the 7th paragraph:

Iaffaldano stressed that his study did not mean that global warming would translate to stronger earthquakes happening more often, with the relevant patterns developing over “the order of millions of years.”

“Of course earthquakes do occur at the boundaries between plates because of plate motions, but our work doesn’t imply at all that we will see an increase in these types of events,” he told AFP.

Hmm, so this is actually a complete non-story?  WTF (not “WINNING”)!?!

Obviously this writer was following the “How to write a global warming article” chart perfectly, he used a serious sounding headline, and made sure to show it was linked to a study.  He used an unrelated fact, the Japanese and New Zealand earthquakes, to connect scientific mumbo-jumbo (let’s face it, proselytizers of the Religion of Gore aren’t that big on science) like “tectonic plate movement” to fear inducing real world events.  He used quotes from foreign scientists whose names are unpronounceable, everyone knows only bad scientists have common names.  And most importantly, he left the actual truth of the story till the end, knowing that most members of the Holy Order of the Inverted Hockey Stick are already genuflecting in fear to the wrath of Gaia.

Obviously I need to work on my writing skillz.  With time, maybe my headlines will have the gravitas (I always wanted to use that word) necessary to draw the attention of passersby and ne’er-do-wells (another word I always wanted to use – it sorta fits) like the writer with whom I chose to elevate.  How about this one?

Climate change affects brain activity of retards, causing seizures: study

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 14, 2011 9:49 am

    Nothing like starting my day with a smile, thank you!

    • April 14, 2011 10:10 am

      It was my pleasure. =)

  2. bunkerville permalink
    April 14, 2011 11:25 am

    Nice one!! It is getting better all the time.

    • April 14, 2011 3:21 pm

      Thank you my friend. =)

  3. April 14, 2011 11:31 am

    I need to work on my headlines! 🙂

    • April 14, 2011 3:22 pm

      Hey Jason, thanks for dropping by and commenting. I guess we need to both work on our headlines. =)

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