Journalism: Exaggerated headline of the day “Most People Experiencing Homelessness Have Had a Traumatic Brain Injury, Study Finds” #TBI

Journalism: Exaggerated headline of the day “Most People Experiencing Homelessness Have Had a Traumatic Brain Injury, Study Finds” #TBI

“Most people” turns out to be 53%. A more accurate headline would say “About half” or “Just over half”. But what would be a news report without an exaggerated headline? (Disclosure – I have had multiple TBI including a skull fracture – this post is not about TBI or homelessness but about the exaggerated headline.)

#Climate communications: Dr. Hans Rosling on the problem of exaggerated claims, false urgency, leading to bad decisions on climate change policy

#Climate communications: Dr. Hans Rosling on the problem of exaggerated claims, false urgency, leading to bad decisions on climate change policy

Excessive exaggeration in climate communications is leading to “a situation where no one listens anymore. Without trust, we are lost.” Hyperbolic and unrealistic scenarios lead to the impossibility of reaching workable solutions. Coupled with the salesman’s technique of a false sense of urgency, we create unnecessary stress – which leads the target to give up and tune out. Under urgent pressure, we make bad decisions with even worse outcomes. That’s a summary of comments from the late Dr. Hans Rosling, in his book Factfulness.

Nutrition: the role that propaganda played in picking the wrong villain

Nutrition: the role that propaganda played in picking the wrong villain

Yudkin argued that excess sugar was causing health problems. Keys argued that sugar was not the problem – the consumption of fat was causing health problems. Keys was effective at loudly denouncing anyone who criticized his fat hypothesis. For 40 years, we were told to avoid all fats and that sugar consumption was not a problem. Propaganda messaging played a major role in persuading the public that any fat in the diet was bad while simultaneously asserting that sugar consumption was not a problem for most people.

Climate communications: “extreme statements by environmental activists undermine environmental progress”

Climate communications: “extreme statements by environmental activists undermine environmental progress”

“Climate change is real but it’s not the end of the world. And increasingly extreme statements by activists undermine environmental progress, say climate scientists.” – another post in our continuing look at poorly done climate communications tactics that are leading many to ignore the climate topic altogether.

Climate communication: A PR stunt backfires and leads to skepticism on climate issues

Climate communication: A PR stunt backfires and leads to skepticism on climate issues

PR stunts tend to backfire when they are hypocritical. Greta Thunberg sailed on a donated, crewed, luxury yacht to North America to avoid the CO2 emissions of air travel. But at least two (and likely 4) crew members crossed the Atlantic by air to support her effort. In her current crossing by a crewed, luxury yacht back to Europe, another crew member was flown across the Atlantic. Her travel by luxury yachts has produced significantly more CO2 than if she had simply flown herself. When this information becomes public, the climate message gets lost and viewed as hypocritical (which it is).

Journalism: Newsweek had to recall 125,000 printed copies of its pre-written news “Madam President Special Commemorative Edition” in 2016

Journalism: Newsweek had to recall 125,000 printed copies of its pre-written news “Madam President Special Commemorative Edition” in 2016

In 2016, Newsweek recalled 125,000 copies of this cover, which had been distributed nationwide. You can find copies today on Amazon or EBay. Newsweek blamed a subcontractor saying they had printed two separate editions in order to be prepared but their vendor shipped the wrong one. Newsweek has a history of publishing creative pre-written news stories rather than reporting on events after they have occurred.