“The more you love quinoa, the more you hurt Peruvians and Bolivians,” read the headline on a recent piece by Globe and Mail reporter Amy Verner. Whether you consider yourself a quinoa lover or not, this headline might come as quite a shock.
Three days later, the Globe’s Doug Saunders published “Killer quinoa? Time to debunk these urban food myths.” This article addressed the “headlines suggesting that the quinoa boom, unlike any other commodity boom, must somehow be bad for the people on the producing end,” and suggested that quinoa intake may be down among Peruvians and Bolivians because they are using increased incomes to import other foods, such as beans, chicken, cheese, and rice. Other publications have since run articles to ease readers’ minds, while mocking the quinoa drama. Slate’s article, “It’s OK To Eat Quinoa” advises, “Don’t buy the media’s hand-wringing about Bolivians who can’t afford quinoa. The real effects of Western demand are complicated.”
The issue is that these headlines let readers down. One commenter, “angry old white guy,” wrote, “Thank you Doug Saunders. Now I have to tell the people I told to stop buying quinoa to buy it. May I never again give my critical thinking a day off.” Publishing provocative stories before confirming the facts leaves readers with more questions and doubts when the sensational story turns out to be just that—sensational. Shouldn’t news organizations be more keen to get things right? It’s time journalists focus more on writing factually accurate articles than shocking headlines.