Some free advice to Boston.com

Should a news site label the disappearance and death of an 11-year-old girl a “Hot Topic”?

Frankly, it’s not something I had given any thought to until yesterday, when I heard from a “Beat the Press” viewer who complained that Boston.com had included “Celina Cass” in its “Hot Topics” menu bar near the top of the page. The story is still there as I write this, along with “Debt limit,” “TSA,” “Cash WinFall,” “Boston public schools” and “Red Sox.”

My caller told me that including such a tragic story involving a child as a “Hot Topic” was offensive, and said she had complained to Boston.com in the past over similar matters. I instantly understood what she meant, though I wasn’t sure whether I agreed.

Last night I ran it by Mrs. Media Nation, who agreed with the caller: “Hot Topics” was just the wrong phrase for a catch-all category that includes everything from sports and politics to heartbreaking tragedies. So here’s some free advice to Boston.com — call it something else, like “Top News,” “Headlines” or whatever phrase you like that’s succinct but also neutral.

Oh, and when you click on “Celina Cass,” it would also be nice if you didn’t encounter a story labeled “Our Pick.”