As bad as the establishment press's coverage of national stories is, the situation with bias, ignorance, and sloppiness seen at local and regional news outlets may be worse. Here's an example from Monday: A story at St. Louis TV station KSDK about "crimes involving stolen guns" was headlined "More legal guns used in St. Louis area crimes."
That headline, which is what most device users will see as they scroll through news and Twitter feeds, gives the impression that owners of legally purchased guns are committing more crimes.
That isn't what's happening, as seen in the subheadline and opening sentence at the station's original version of the story:
Commenters at the tweet observed what should be obvious:
"Hack reporting! Stolen guns are NOT legal guns!"
"Stolen guns are legal in St. Louis? No wonder you have problems."
"It IS sad, when you think about it! These poor guns go through ALL the paperwork & filing fees to become legal, then they're stolen & used by similarly-certified illegal bad guys ... And the LEGAL GUNS GET THE RAP!"
"If a legal weapon, as you say, is in the hands of a criminal....its no longer legal!!"
"You do this intentionally. Write a misleading headline then bury the truth in the article. Stolen guns are NOT legal guns. #fakenews"
NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch, as might be expected, had the best reaction:
One imagines that the reporter involved was taken to the woodshed, as the station has significantly revised its original story and given it a new URL. But the headline — "Tracking the path of a stolen gun in St. Louis" — still doesn't truly reflect the content of the underlying article.
Additionally, to be fair, the related broadcast report didn't use the misleading lede or contain other errors seen in the original text article. KSDK also posted a different tweet five hours later with a new headline — but it hasn't taken down the original.
The key point the station's report was making is that crimes involving stolen guns "skyrocketed to 422" in 2017 ... up from the previous year by nearly 140 percent." It would have been nice if the station had done so more directly — and correctly. The report also notes that gun owners are often forced to leave their weapons in their cars and therefore vulnerable to theft because so many establishments won't allow firearms on their premises.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.