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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Not a time for humor

CNN's "Headline News" channel -- once a straightforward and reliable source of information but lately an embarrassment to the profession of journalism with all its "true crime" stories and celebrity gossip -- thought it clever to label Thursday's horrific killings at Northern Illinois University as the "St. Valentine's Day Massacre."

If there's one thing every self-respecting headline writer will tell you it's that you don't try to be cute or funny with tragedies. Puns, plays on words and catch phrases have their place when covering, say, an election, the economy, a sporting event or a dog show, but making light of a mass murder is reprehensible.

A simple and informative phrase at the bottom of the screen like "Gunman kills 5 on college campus" would have conveyed the information effectively. Instead, "Headline News," unable to resist temptation, decided to go for the cheap laugh.

As if we needed any more proof of what a laughingstock this "news" operation has become.



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