Keep your wallet in your pocket: headline mishap

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This is, as you would guess, wrapped around the daily Omaha World-Herald, as it arrives at our hotel. I had walked by the stands of newspapers at the elevator entrance and the coffee kiosk, but I hadn’t actually picked one up or read it until today (we had a busy weekend). Without studying it, though, I had absorbed the headline, and that was part of why I hadn’t picked it up for further perusal.

I read the main headline, “Keep your wallet in your pocket,” and I figured it was an article about staying safe and not getting pickpocketed. I asked my husband, and this was his impression, too. (He said, “It’s about not getting robbed,” to use his words.)

The problem? It’s clear if you actually read the subhead. The article is actually about free entertainment. Kind of different, huh?

The wrap is (apparently) produced by the World-Herald. It will be used for three months — July, August and September; this mistake will not disappear today and be lining the metaphorical birdcage tomorrow as daily newspapers reportedly do.

The issue is deeper than simply a misleading headline. Although the piece is produced by the newspaper, it’s not merely a news product. Actually, it’s more of an advertising product: They’re selling visitors on Omaha. The initial impression of the headline, though, is detrimental to that cause, even though the article isn’t nearly so negative (or even cautionary).

Headlines can be tricky, this is no secret. It’s a challenge to communicate clearly sometimes massive amounts of information in a few words. Active verbs are more than desirable, too. This seems like a situation where even more care should be taken to ensure clarity, since the product is not thrown away (well, hopefully it’s recycled) at the end of the day.

This headline clearly needed another proof.

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2 responses to “Keep your wallet in your pocket: headline mishap

  1. Isn’t this interesting! I didn’t assume an anti-pickpocket headline; I got a “no, no, you don’t need your money for this,” even before I read the sub-line. Funny how different people see different things…

  2. Well, I find it extraordinarily interesting.Good luck to

    all of you. And I’m sure you’ll do fine. Really. Just fine.

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