Utilitarian headlines

I was dismayed, for various reasons, to see the Evening Standard’s headline the other day: “Pregnant Woman Raped By Burglar”.

Whilst I understand the reasons why the paper chose to draw attention to the victim’s pregnancy it is rather troubling, implying, as it does,  that this is somehow more newsworthy – or worse – than the alternative “Woman Raped By Burglar”. This somewhat utilitarian view doesn’t really stand up to analysis because, of course, rape of any kind whether the victim is pregnant (or female for that matter) is totally unacceptable and making value judgements on the newsworthiness (or evil quotient) of such an act is repugnant.

Headlines are an attempt to capture the attention of us – the audience – and so to a certain extent reflect the writer’s opinion of the society around them. In this context the headline above – unwitting or not – is deeply troubling.

I think too much. Anyone else find the headline odd?

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