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When media publish sexist headlines, they want to make the news clickable – IMI expert

14.08.2020, 16:00

When mass media publish sexist headlines, this is a method to make the news peice more clickable and to add "spice" to the material. But readers often do not read the text of the news, they just draw conclusions from headlines.

This was the comment of IMI media expert and trainer for security issues Iryna Zemliana for “Povaha” regarding the news piece published by the media outlet “Yevropeiska pravda” with a headline “A woman for Biden: how black female US Vice-President candidate  will help to overcome Trump“.

The news was about how on August 11 the likely candidate from the Democratic Party Joe Biden, named senator from California Kamala Harris her election partner, and a potential candidate to become the Vice-President of the USA. This news was published in several Ukrainian media.

Iryna Zemliana pointed out that several monitorings of media outlets show that manipulations are most often used in headlines.

“They quote incompletely, exaggerate, use emotionally charged words or sexist wording, like it was in this case, and use other methods. Mass media want to make the news more clockable by doing this and to add "spice" to the material. But readers often ignore the text of the news, and draw conclusions on the event using only the headline.

In this case, the author clearly “evaluated” Californian Senator Kamala Harris, as if her only merit is being a woman and being fit for Biden. In addition, the author mentioned skin color, so we get a combo of discrimination features in the same headline. The author would hardly mention skin color if it was about someone white, right? “A man for Biden: how white candidate for USA Vice-President will help to overcome Trump” – well, this is absurd”, the expert emphasized. 

She is speaking about “reversibility test” - the universal rule that helps to  varify our journalist material or post in Facebook for gender bias and correctness. One should change the words “he” to “she” and read the text to check if it would be acceptable in this reverted form.

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