Earlier this afternoon I was doing my 100th or so skim read through Twitter and came across a headline which shocked me. Now, this isn’t about parenting but it is about a hugely misleading use of words which could easily be interperated as a high profile sportswoman advocating bulimia.
This was the tweet from BBC Sports:
BBC Sports’ Tweet
What do you think? I read it and thought “Surely Williams isn’t essentially telling people that vomiting during a sporting event will help you win? Surely she wouldn’t be so stupid as to say such things when young, impressionable budding sports stars could be reading/listening?” Thankfully she wasn’t, but in my view that does not excuse the fact that BBC Sports worded the headline in such an ambiguous manner and whether the writer did so on purpose or not is irrelevant because, well, editors…
In actual fact, Serena Williams was saying that she had been poorly with a bad cold and she threw up, which resulted in her chest clearing a little and enabling her to breathe easier and go on to win a very impressive 19th grand slam title. You could argue that there really wasn’t any need for her to mention the whole incident at all, but we all know that media outlets have a tendency to paraphrase so we don’t know under what context the topic arose. My whole issue here is that the BBC wrote a very ambiguous headline which outside of the context of the whole story could give a very damaging message to young people because let’s face it, not everyone would click the link and read the whole story because that’s the joy of Twitter! They haven’t even got the excuse that they had to fit a catchy headline in Twitter’s 140 characters because a click to the article reveals exactly the same headline and I’m pretty sure their character allowance is slightly larger on the BBC website.
Just a quick rant from me because I think that the BBC and the media as a whole has amongst its responsibilities one to advocate good health and to protect young minds, not to give the impression that vomiting will help you to win matches. Sadly this is far from the first time I’ve seen a sensationalist headline, but it’s certainly one of the more damaging ones I have spotted. I tweeted BBC Sports with a 140 character message to this effect but am yet to receive a reply. I shall update you if I do get one.
What do you think? Am I being over the top here or do you agree that the headline was irresponsible at best and potentially damaging? Let me know in the comments below or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.