12 May 2006

Clash of the headlines

Headlines are important. They also cause more anguish than any other part of a publication, partly because they rarely come from the pen of the person whose byline appears on an article. As a connoisseur of these things, I delight when headlines clash.

Take these two:

WTO faults European Union for blocking genetically modified food imports

US did not win transatlantic GM trade dispute

The story is the ruling by the World Trade Organisation on Europe's stand on genetically modified (GM) foods and crops. The USA wants to force feed them to Europeans, who aren't that keen.

No prizes for guessing that the second headline comes from British environmentalists. The first is from an American tech operation, SiliconValley.com.

Unfortunately, the WTO's own web site doesn't seem to have anything that would tell us which of these headlines reflects the actuality. But read both stories and it seems that they have read the same report, but their spin is very different. Which is where the headlines come in.

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