Reporting on a threat and alert is certainly the job of news media, but even the predictably outrageous New York Post did not go all out to promote this “unconfirmed” report. It’s not what it says but how it says it. This “screamer” headline is guaranteed to telegraph and instill terror.
Let’s unpack the headline: First, the kicker in the red band says “Unconfirmed . . .” That’s the story. Feds release the information but it is speculation at this point. Then “9/11 Terror Threat.” Well, the speculation is that September 11 is the date and it is only a threat, but when the term 9/11 is used, it conjures more than a simple threat. “In cross hairs” contradicts both “unconfirmed” and “threat,” suggesting NYC is indeed targeted. Add to this the immense size of the white type against black, sandwiched between red bands . . . and this is more false information than is really necessary.
Granted the Daily News perfected this exaggerated tabloid approach to headline design and headline writing, but at a time when most people, especially in NYC, are already experiencing a range of strong emotions, perhaps the tendency to sensationalize is a bit extreme. In fact, it is totally extreme and unnecessary.