Hed: (n) Newsroom Jargon for Headlines

Headlines are tricky. They have to grab flighty readers’ attention, tell a story, and hopefully even squeeze in a witticism. The smallest choices affect readers’ first impressions and, sometimes, their only take on the story. Once a week, we analyze the different ways news outlets present the same story.

The Tale:

All eyes were on the $3.7 billion Dakota Access Pipeline late last year as protests turned to powerful clashes between the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and police. The planned pipeline, whose permit was rejected in December, would lie adjacent to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and transport crude oil from North and South Dakota to Illinois, through Indigenous land, potentially threatening animals, agriculture, and drinking water.

This week, U.S. President Trump signed executive orders to revive the Dakota Access Pipeline, as well as the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. The revival of Keystone XL, which would move over 800,000 barrels of oil sands crude daily from Calgary, Alberta to the Gulf Coast, was supported by Prime Minister Trudeau and is now heralded by Trump as a way to boost economic growth and job creation.

The Heds:

Trump signs executive order reviving controversial Keystone XL pipeline  (The Toronto Star)

Resurrection of Keystone and DAPL cements America’s climate antagonism  (The Guardian)

Trump Revives Keystone Pipeline Rejected by Obama  (The New York Times)

The Take:

Headlines from the Star, Guardian, and Times stress the swift shift in direction the U.S. has experienced in mere days of a Trump presidency. The Star’s use of the words “revive” and “controversial” draw attention to the historical significance of these pipelines, which were previously rejected by the former Obama administration and vehemently  protested by environmental and Indigenous groups.

The Times headline highlights the disparate approaches of the Obama and Trump leadership styles. Using the words “revives” and “rejected,” the Times draws the reader’s attention to the starkly different views the two hold on environmental and human rights issues.

And then there’s the Guardian, which boldly spells out the grim reality of what it calls “America’s climate antagonism.” It is a strong headline that suggests a negative shift in efforts toward climate change. The use of the word “cement” also suggests a point of no return.