Headline writers vs. reporters

Valley News Dispatch (part of the Tribune-Review empire) headline, written by some editor: “Fireworks danger persists in nation, Pa.

Sounds dangerous. Sounds like fireworks are injuring people at a higher rate than they used to, or at least the same rate. That is what I would assume, if I only read the headline, as many people do. The text of the story, by Jenni Easton:

Demand for fireworks has skyrocketed nationwide, but injuries related to the explosive novelties have hit their lowest rate in years, according to data released this week.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported Wednesday that fireworks imports into the United States have increased 700 percent in the past 30 years, amounting to about 272 million pounds in 2006.

At the same time, injuries per 100,000 pounds imported were estimated at 3.4 in 2006, down from 7.5 in 2000 and 38 in 1976, when the commission began enforcing stringent industry safety standards.

No basis for that alarmist headline here. Maybe lower down in the story?

The [eleven]deaths have prompted some national groups, including the National Fire Protection Association, to advocate banning consumer fireworks. NFPA has coordinated a coalition of like-minded professional groups to form the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks, which works to increase the number of states with comprehensive bans.

They say there is no such thing as a safe firework.

“When you’re talking about a product that injures 10,000 people a year, a large percentage of which are children, that’s far too many,” said Lorraine Carli, an NFPA spokeswoman.

Yup, ten paragraphs down we see some professional alarmists being alarmed. That is a shock worthy of a headline that ignores the actual story.

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