EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 8, 2012

Letter: Headline did not reflect content of story

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — To the editor:

I am disturbed by an article headline that appeared on the front page of the Nov. 6 edition titled, “Temple of Witchcraft move concerns some.” While the overall article did deal with the proposed move of the nonprofit group from its current location to its newly purchased property, the tone set by the headline was very misleading. Less than 10 percent of the writing actually even mentioned that there was any concern, and the rest of the piece was really about the Temple’s open house and the goal to move the site.

What I am most upset about, therefore, is not the information of the article, which was mostly positive, but in the rather sensational way the headline was used. The main idea of the piece dealt with the open house that the Temple held to try to greet and educate its new neighbors, not to talk about the neighbor’s potential worries. The slant of the headline gives the article a negative tenor that it should not have. It leads you into the piece thinking that there is going to be some huge upheaval and that is not truly what it is about.

Writers have a responsibility to use their words to best effect, but not at the expense of misleading the public. I know that this time of the year lends itself to trying to find local pagan groups and to highlight the antics of the more southern city of the same name, but making the public think in a certain way about an article they have not yet read leads to biased reading. This article was given a title that would catch the public’s attention, not discuss the move of a legitimate nonprofit religious group. This type of headline sells papers, but it does nothing to promote tolerance and understanding.

The sad fact is that it may cause more harm than good, but there seems to have been little effort to stop it from doing so. In the future, perhaps personal bias can be set aside when dealing with the local pagan community, but it seems like there is a still a long way to go. Halloween is over. It is time to put the sensationalist mindset away for another year and view this event with some dignity.

Deborah Jarvis