If you have followed this blog for long, then you have heard your GetReligionistas -- in a kind of whiny voice common among offended reporters -- stress that reporters do not get to write the headlines that run on top of their stories.
Nevertheless, readers often blame the contents of a headline on the person named in the byline. People who study these kinds of things will tell you that a high percentage of readers only scan the headlines and then skip all but the first few lines of most news stories, if they read that much.
So what's my point? Headlines really matter.
Case in point: I got excited today when I saw the following headline as I worked my way through my morning email summary of the top news in The New York Times. I'm talking about the one that said: "Transcripts of Calls With Orlando Gunman Will Be Released."
That's important news, in light of all of the speculation there was been about the "Why?" part of the "Who, what, when, where, why and how" equation linked to Orlando gunman Omar Mateen. I mean, there are many mysteries about what was happening inside the mind of this sexually conflicted (possibly gay), Muslim with Afghanistan roots who was a registered Democrat and, with his job as a low-level worker in a security firm (that even had ties to the Department of Homeland Security), had no trouble legally purchasing weapons.
This news about the transcripts of the cellphone calls between the police and Mateen -- during his rampage inside the gay bar -- is crucial. These transcripts would, apparently, give the public a chance to hear the gunmen talking about his actions, even his motives, in his own voice.
The problem with this soft Times headline is that it was missing a crucial word that readers needed to know. Let's see if you can spot it in the lede: