How headlines matter

The trial of Amy Senser, charged with running down a motorist on an I-94 ramp and then driving away, is already shaping up to be a minefield for the journalists covering it.

Today, prosecutors showed photographs of Anousone Phanthavong’s body at the scene of the crash.

The Star Tribune story, some readers insist, played it from the angle of Senser as victim.

amy_senser_tears.jpg

The newspaper isn’t allowing comments on its Senser stories. If it had, they might well mirror those on Facebook…

“Money. Power. The ‘drama’ of a poor rich white woman on trial. Even the media can’t help but enjoy playing into it. Gross,” local journalist Molly Priesmeyer said on her Facebook page.

How should it be played? Straight.

Based on the Star Tribune’s story, either of these would work:

Other drivers easily saw flashers of hit-and-run victim’s car

911 call: “I’m pretty sure they’re dead”

or

Witnesses in Senser trial say they didn’t see how accident happened..

Maybe those don’t capture the “color” of the moment. But in a case packed with this much emotion, they don’t have to.

  • Loretta

    The morning headline “Amy Senser came forward only after stepdaughter threatened to call cops, prosecutor says” didn’t help her.

  • Jim Shapiro

    The fact that Senser teared up when she saw a picture of the body of the person she killed indicates that she’s probably not a manipulative sociopath.

    The Strib writers, on the other hand….

  • Suzanne

    Good post.

  • Mark Gisleson

    I saved a pdf of the Strib’s first coverage of the trial yesterday. It was long, and very good.

    Two hours later they added the video, and cut the copy in half, gutting everything but the “ungrateful” Brittani and cocaine angles.

    I think the Strib writers are just fine, but there’s something very dark and malignant about their editing process.