Bad writing or short memories?

Bad headline #1 (Associated Press/Yahoo News):

New park to stretch from Ga. to Ky.

Bad headline #2 (Chattanooga Times):

Laurel-Snow Wilderness to become state park

It was such a simple story. The state is negotiating to buy some land from Bowater, the lumber company, for inclusion in the Cumberland Trail.

The spokesperson who distributed information to the reporters is a friend of mine and former co-worker. I’m confident she didn’t provide any confusing or contradictory facts.

So why was it so hard to get this story right?

It’s not a new state park. The Cumberland Trail has been a state park for more than five years.

The wilderness area isn’t becoming a park, it’s being added to the existing park.

Okay, to be fair, let’s be clear. The stories are factually correct. It’s the headlines that miss the mark, and those aren’t usually written by the reporter. But online, headlines are the most important part of a story. They’re often the only thing of the story a person reads.

[Disclaimer #1: I work for a TV news station.]

[Disclaimer #2: I have volunteered on trail construction projects on the Cumberland Trail.]

[Disclaimer #3: Those first two disclaimers probably explain why I’m making a big deal about of this.]

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