Ive heard from a few readers this morning who questioned the word choice of the lead headline on todays Page A1 story in the print edition.
By Derek Donovan
The Kansas City Star
About Jacole Princes guilty plea in the horrific starvation and abuse of her daughter known as LP, the headline read, LPs mom pleads guilty.
To me, the word mom is not a neutral word, said one caller. I consider that a term of endearment, and it should not be used to refer to this woman.
Another reader correctly pointed out an important consideration in writing headlines: I know there are issues with the (size of) the font used, so you cant fit anything in the space that you want. He suggested that the whole thing should have been phrased a different way entirely, as the word mother wouldnt fit in the space with the rest of the headline.
I know Ive discussed questions about how headlines are phrased many times through the years, and it remains true that writing headlines especially for the highly-constrictive requirements in the print medium. I do think people often underestimate how hard it is to communicate the essence of a story clearly and succinctly in a headline.
But theres no denying that some words have strong emotional connotations for many people. Its hard to think of many topics that stir more emotions than motherhood, and I certainly understand those who dont consider Jacole Prince a mom to LP.