Monday, July 9, 2012

Pistol Packing in L' Etoile du Nord

Headline writing is a peculiar craft that will outlive newspapers. To capture a would-be reader's interest, in a few short words, is an important skill. Especially in an age of information overload.

Sometimes, however, the headline writers get a little too cute. Even worse, sometimes they obscure the facts.

For example, yesterday's Star Tribune featured a long front-page article on legalized gun carrying in Minnesota. Presumably trying to riff on the state's "Land of 10,000 Lakes" slogan, the article multiplied the state's number of lakes by ten to get the number of permit holders.

The result was a headline that read Land of 100,000 Gun Toters.

Ah, but reality is not always so nicely symmetrical. It is Wisconsin, our neighbor to the east, that has about 100,000 gun permit holders. Here in Minnesota, with more restrictive gun permit requirements than Wisconsin, the number is more like 51,000. (The Strib said it was 50,777 as of 2007, which is now five years ago.)

A pity, to have such a fine article undermined by a factually inaccurate title. Unless the Strib was trying to imply that the trend line is heading toward 100,000 gun carriers in Minnesota?

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