The Importance of a Headline

One of the reasons I haven’t blogged alot recently is that I have been working for the Maine People’s Alliance and for the last two weeks we have been collecting signatures for a Peoples Veto of a law that eliminated same day voter registration in Maine. I won’t get into detail here but you can read more on it here.

This morning there was an article in the Bangor Daily News concerning the issue.

Bangor Daily News Front Page

While I disagree with what is being claimed what really upsets me about this article is how it was presented on the front page of the Bangor Daily News. In the headline they are presenting the statement that STUDENTS ARE VOTING ILLEGALLY. That is what first grabs peoples attention and that is the only information presented to people who see the paper but who do not read the article. In the headline this fact is presented as truth (‘are’ is not a speculative word) but in the article we learn differently.

Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster on Monday call for an investigation into the voting records of more than 200 college students who he BELIEVES committed voter fraud during the 2010 election…
…Carey (Rep. Mike Carey, D-Lewiston) further criticized Webster for failing to provide any further details such as: How many of the 206 students named actually voted twice? How many of them registered in Maine on Election Day? How many officially declared primary residency in Maine?
Asked for those specifics, Webster said that he did not have the resources to get that data.
“I only dealt with what was the easiest thing to find,” the GOP chairman said.

In the article it is made clear that nothing newsworthy is actually being presented, only the fear and speculation that something wrong has occurred. The only purpose of these statements is to plant the idea into peoples head that 206 college students may have committed voter fraud.

This is made worse by the fact that it is published under a headline that declares guilt before evidence is provided. I understand the headline is from a quotation and that people have the right to free speech, but it this case it only serves to mislead the public and to validate false statements that have not been proven true. A more suitable headline should have been chosen to match the speculative tone of the article. Perhaps this one.


As an artist I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about how to present information to people. I think this is a prime example of how information can become distorted in presentation. The bigger and bolder something is written the more important and urgent it becomes. I hope everyone enjoyed this unexpected post on politics. Expect a return to art in the next post.

If you want to get involved (theres still time!) and help with the peoples veto you should visit


About Aaron Mitchell
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