Sunday, November 25, 2012

Miami Herald tries its hand at tabloid headline writing

Did you see the front page of today's Miami Herald?

Click to enlarge.
(Image via The Newseum)

That's right! We're all in danger of being eaten by Man-eating Nile crocodiles! And there's not a damn thing you can do about it.

The Herald's Curtis Morgan reports that South Florida wildlife biologist Joe Wasilewski recently caught a four-foot long Nile crocodile at the Redland Fruit & Spice Park in South Miami-Dade.

But wildlife officials believe there is still at least one Nile crocodile still living in the wild.

Morgan writes that the beast is "infamous for its appetite for humans and savage attacks on wildebeest and other large animals along African rivers and watering holes."

Morgan also says that "U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took the unusual step of authorizing a state shoot-to-kill" order for the man-eater.

At this point you're probably asking, "What does this killer croc look like? I'd like to know so I can protect my family." Unfortunately, Morgan's story doesn't offer any tips on how to do that.

But the paper did run this photo.

Joe Wasilewski with the Nile crocodile he captured.

Man-eater? That thing looks like it would have trouble devouring a large order of Chicken McNuggets.

But according to one expert, "It's disturbing that a very large animal that can and does attack and kill people in its native range somehow got in [South Florida's] canal system."

That's the opinion of FWC Everglades Region Biologist Dennis Giardina. But, he didn't tell that to the Herald. His quote was part of a less sensational story that ran on the front page of the Key West Citizen last Wednesday.

Why did the Herald choose to go with such an alarmist headline? Page views. Right now, the story of the "man-eatng croc" is the most-viewed story on the paper's website.

And while the Herald's page one headline is the most sensational I've ever seen in the paper, it didn't go far enough in my opinion.

Here's what today's front page would have looked like had it been up to me.

Click here to enlarge image.


  1. I saw that piece in the paper this morning and then the photo on the website, I thought, 'THAT'S the man-eating croc?' It speaks volumes about what's left of the Herald - not the sensationalism but the sheer fact that no one at any level in what's left of the newsroom said, 'Wait a minute. Let's not run THAT photo - not if the story is taking THIS approach.'

    It's profoundly saddening and embarrassing to see the Herald do what it did today (and far too often) while its circulation craters as other newspapers pass it by with better and smarter...everything and, consequently, less loss of readership.

  2. Headline should have read: "CROCK!"


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