By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Headline news

A couple of odd headlines in today’s Boston Globe:

  • “Judge resists push for prison for drunk driver.” In fact, the judge sentenced the guy to three years in the House of Correction, with about a year off for time already served. Not good enough for the sister of the victim, but prison nevertheless.
  • “25-year sentence in pornography case.” The pornography, in this instance, was produced by the perpetrator, who filmed himself having sex with girls as young as 6 and 8. This is about rape, not porn. (Note: The online headline, as you will see, is slightly different.)

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  1. Mr Punch

    The really odd item in today’s Globe is the front page lede, which is all about a supposed conflict with the teachers’ unions that has disappeared by the bottom of page 13.

  2. BosPhotog

    How about this headline in today’s regarding an AP story from California? “High school paper dropped over flag-burning photo” Yes, the headline is correct but can you believe that school system? Story is here… does this teach our kids???? Sad and maddening!!!

  3. Lenny Harris

    Dan, in his piece on the judge not sentencing the drunk driver to prison, John Ellement was very careful to delineate the difference between “prison” and “jail,” which are two very different animals. All incarceration is not created equal. The judge made this distinction in her remarks.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Lenny: Ellement’s story was fine. I’m critiquing the headline. And, yes, I noted while reading the story that, technically, officialdom does not consider a house of correction to be a prison — something I’m familiar with from my own journalism career. For purposes of headline-writing, it is a distinction without a difference. The headline screams out that the judge let the guy go.

  5. Anonymous

    Was the man charged with rape? If not, then it was not a rape case, right? It sounds like the pornography offense occurred within the U.S. border, and was prosecuted as such. The acts depicted reportedly happened in Thailand. Perhaps it was more of a sure thing to prosecute for pornography and leave the international aspect alone.

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 11:20: Good question. I hadn’t realized until you asked it that some the details of the case were omitted from the online version. According to the print version, from AP, he “pleaded guilty in March to seven counts of sexual exploitation of children and one count of possession of child pornography.” But even the online version says, “Some of the images featured Constable [the perp] raping a screaming girl, according to federal prosecutors.”As with the “prison” headline, headline-writers need to keep in mind that their job is to inform the public, not parse the nuances of the criminal-justice system.

  7. Bill Toscano

    At least the folks who write headlines at the Globe don’t use the word “jake” like the guys in the green eye shades at the Herald.

  8. Dan Kennedy

    Bill: Would a firefighter charged with child molestation be a JAKE PERV or a PERV JAKE? Or may be PERVY JAKE — I kind of like that.

  9. Dan Kennedy

    P.S. To top that, try working SOLON into it.

  10. Anonymous

    Jakes nix endorsement of pervy soloncc: Arlington Advocate

  11. lou

    That’s a curious aspect of headline writers I’ve always wondered about. For instance, many headlines in the case of the guy who raped his daughter and kept her imprisoned for umpteen years write the headlines as if the woman consented to the incest.It’s like they want to avoid the word ‘rape’ even in cut-and-dry cases. It’s probably the alarm bells the word sets off.A couple of judges are even telling victims they can’t use the word ‘rape’ or even sexual assault when they testify against their rapist.

  12. jdkrcf

    Reads to me like a story pushed by a conviction-hungry edit desk; happens all the time — editors are looking for a big sentencing payoff, they’ve pre-written the story in their own minds, and they write a headline that announces their dissatisfaction that the world didn’t play ball with them.

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