Music/Popular Culture

What’s wrong with this clickbait Washington Post headline?

I’ve been seeing this headline for days now and it bother me a lot:

‘Heart-wrenching and incomprehensible’: 18 fraternity members charged in Penn State hazing death

First, a little background. On February 4, 2017, 19-year Timothy Piazza fell down the stairs at the Pennsylvania State University Beta Theta Pi house during a pledge celebration party after drinking excessively. Instead of taking their injured pledge to the hospital, his fraternity brothers put him on a couch for 12 hours while they debated what to do with him and continued to drink. Apparently they were worried that they’d get in trouble for underage drinking and related infractions. Police found him unconscious and got him to a hospital, but it was too late – Piazza died the next morning. As a result, Beta Theta Pi has been banned from Penn State and both the PSU chapter and 18 members of the fraternity have been charged with crimes varying from hazing, evidence tampering, aggravated assault, to involuntary manslaughter.

Here’s what bugs me about the headline. The quote comes from Penn State preside Eric Barron and is reference to the death of Piazza. But the way the headline is constructed it seems like it’s in reference to the charges.

Maybe if you’d been following the story since it happened you’d be aware of this and just skip over the headline. But as it is, this headline runs counter to the content of the article and seems more like clickbait than an accurate summary of the article.

Newspapers like the Washington Post should know better.

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