The headline "Is Islam a threat to America?" jumps off the pages of The Tennessean's Sunday edition.
In the words of president's supposed least favorite Christmas show star Charlie Brown: Good grief!
First: The famous question headline bothers me to no end, specifically when you're reporting on highly flammable subject matter.
Second: The subhead has an opportunity for some semblance of balance, but instead opts for the here's an opinion; here's the denial format. Seen here:
Nashville activists warn churchgoers of violent threats to America; Muslims call campaign unfair
Reading four or five graphs into the story, one can find a decent rebuttal that digs deeper than "no we're not."
Lazy. Lazy. Lazy.
The rest of the story goes on to offer some incredibly interesting -- sometimes shocking (local) -- points of view, but I dare say that many people won't keep reading. They'll be happy with the negative opinion they formed from just the headline.
Are Coal-Fueled Power Plants Bad For Our Lungs?
Is The Tennessean a Threat to Journalism?
Is Tiger Woods a Danger to His Children?
Can Sponge Bob Squarepants be Trusted?
All of these headlines plant an opinion in the reader's mind. Rather than opening a reader's mind to various viewpoints, these types of headlines subconsciously, sometimes consciously, force a reader to pick a side immediately by answering "yes" or "no."
Once a reader has an opinion formed, is it necessary to keep reading? Probably not.