Misleading headline

headlineI don’t know if they still have sub-editors (copy-editors)  in  newspapers. In my days in journalism no sub-editor would have let this headline get into print. It is misleading .  

 The headline reads: Four police officers accused of murdering Mangalore lawyer. The statement in its heading  is not substantiated by the news report, which is based on the First Information Report(FIR) filed by a senior advocate.

The police have yet to investigate before charging anyone in this case. The newspaper headline, terming as ‘accused’  those who are suspects in a case, smacks of  ‘trial by media’. The police oficials named in the report could fault  the newspaper for wrongfully charging them with murder.  Being named in FIR doesn’t necessarily make them accused.

Journalists  reporting crime and legal proceedings ought to know that an allegation isn’t an accusation; and a suspect in a crime doesn’t become an accused till he is formally charged by the police. Using the word ‘accused’  in reference to the police officers named in FIR would be unacceptable,  even if the word figures in the complaint filed by a senior advocate.  Wonder what The Hindu’s  readers editor has to say on this. Do newspapers have a style-book  for their editorial staff?

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One Response

  1. If they don’t , it is high time they did. Reports like this which cannot distinguish between alleged and accused, can swing the way an investigation/trial goes. Media must be more responsible.

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