One of the many roles of a journalist is to objectively and accurately inform the public. Since I took an active role with The Famuan in fall 2012, objectivity and accuracy are two things I have stressed, both of myself and of anyone who wrote for The Famuan during my tenure as copy desk chief.
Headlines, however, are a bit different than articles. They are meant to grab the reader’s attention because they are often the first part of an article a reader sees. It is at that point a reader will decide whether the content is worth reading.
But the objective is not to duplicate the writer’s words while also to follow a series of guidelines with the pressures of deadlines lurking.
A headline for a story about the size of the Marching “100” was posted Saturday that many took offense to. In hindsight, I realize that that was not the best headline we could have written.
The intent of the aforementioned headline was to creatively highlight the change in the number of band members compared to their last performance, which shifted from more than 300 to less than 150.
As anticipation for the return of the Marching “100” continued to grow, questions arose about how the band’s performance would be. As journalists, we could not answer that, nor was it our job to. Our job is to inform the public of the facts and provide further insight through our sources and allow the readers to form their own opinions based on the information provided.
As far as the headline, although it meant no disrespect to Dr. Sylvester Young, his staff or band members – past and present – now, after the backlash, I understand how the headline could be offensive. That being said, the headline has since been changed.
I recognize the mistake and accept responsibility. In the future, The Famuan will follow the processes instituted for quality control. We will continue to aggressively report stories of interest to the FAMU community. And we will check and double-check before hitting the send button or posting to the Web.