Most reporters and editors have done it at one time or another. They’ve misspelled a name, mistakenly included a typo, or made a factual error.
In most cases, news outlets issue a proper correction and hope it won’t happen again. But in some (unfortunate and long-lived) instances, a mistake, ambiguity or bad wording in a headline takes on a new meaning in such an utterly unexpected fashion that the thing goes viral.
Here are six 2014 headline blunders.
To Save Lives, Allow Cops to Stop Texting Drivers
To many, this reads as if lives would be saved if cops were to stop sending text messages to drivers – but this article from Futurity really means that by allowing cops to pull over drivers who are texting, lives would be saved. (Big difference!)
Dutch Military Plane Carrying Bodies From Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Crash Lands in Eindhoven
This tweet from the Associated Press caused a lot of confusion when it was published in July. Many people thought a Dutch plane carrying victims from the Malaysian Airlines Flight, which had recently crashed – crashed as well. “@AP just found out how big a difference a missing comma makes to a news story,” @xGogsx commented.
Plans Underway to Get American Sick With Ebola
The AP didn’t mean to suggest there was a plan to contaminate an American with Ebola – but simply that there plans to retrieve an American already sick with Ebola from Africa. Although the headline is unchanged in this Yahoo pickup, the AP rewrote its headline changing “get” to “retrieve” later on to clear up the unfortunate misunderstanding.
World is Fukt
This is only one part of the headline blunder that happened at the Australian Financial Review in April. As The Guardian explained, the front page was missing text and ran other incomplete headlines. “Production staff in Sydney pressed a wrong button, which sent a draft version of the front page to print sites around the country,” The Guardian wrote. (Lesson: Watch which buttons you push!)
Facebook Pays $16bn for What Mark Zuckerberg Calls “Incredibly Valuable” WhatsApp Massaging Service
This headline turned heads when it came up on the screen of users of the BBC News app. While there’s only a one-letter typo here – changing messaging from massaging – it was amusing enough to prompt dozens of Twitter users to post screen grabs and joke about expensive “rubdowns” and “a great new perk for Facebook employees,” The Daily Telegraph reported.
Mets Blow a Save and Fan 18 Times In Opening Loss
For those who aren’t baseball lovers, what this Wall Street Journal reporter meant to say was that the Mets blew a save and struck out 18 times in the team’s season-opening loss in April, as it was corrected in the online version. While the print version is a bit more confusing – it’s a lot funnier. Or as one Twitter user put it: “One lucky fan, surely.”
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