A Christian man was savagely killed Sunday morning by a Muslim lynch mob in Central African Republic, right in front of a Washington Post reporter. "They cut his neck like a cow," Post reporter Sudarsan Raghavan quoted a relative of the victim, Polin Pumandele.
Post print edition editors assigned the story to page A6, giving it a rather bland headline, "Solutions elusive as sectarian violence spreads." By contrast, earlier this morning, WashingtonPost.com editors promoted the story prominently on the paper's landing page, using "They cut his neck like a cow' as the teaser headline and accompanying it with a photo of women mourning his death (see image below the page break):
As of this writing, WashingtonPost.com website editors have removed the prominent placement of Raghavan's story, but it is apparently doing well online, as the number one story in the Post Most sidebar, which lists the most popular stories on the website (see below for screen capture).
The full story is worth a read, but what is thoroughly curious to me as a media critic is the Post's penchant for slapping boring headlines onto stories like this, particularly in the print edition. If you're scanning through the paper, a headline like "Solutions elusive as sectarian violence spreads" is not exactly likely to arrest your attention and pull you in to read the story.
By contrast, there is incentive among digital editors to use enticing headlines to improve traffic and to get a story to blow up via social media. Here's how the Post promoted the story via Twitter:
He was a Christian in a Muslim enclave. They sliced his throat and mutilated his body. Our reporter saw it happen. http://t.co/OYAAdoViEq
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) February 10, 2014
He was a Christian in a Muslim enclave. They sliced his throat and mutilated his body. Our reporter saw it happen. http://wapo.st/1fTOjAS