A news headline is written to grab attention. A catchy headline will get my notice. But are those headline impressions doing more harm than good? Especially if I don’t read the rest of the article?

The national headline today that made me sit up and take notice read: “California School District Will No Longer Take Part in Funeral Processions for Navy SEALs, Sailors.”

I was familiar with this story as I had heard it on the local San Diego television news. The school district referred to is on Coronado, an eight-mile square island across the harbor from San Diego. About half the island is a U.S. Naval base.

When I saw the headline in a conservative leaning news post, I had to wonder: why this headline?; why was this a national story?

Is it because many in California tend to be liberal in their politics? Is the headline suggesting that Californians aren’t patriotic? Or maybe that California schools aren’t allowing their students to be patriotic?

The island population is less than 25,000. The public schools have about 2,200 students. I’m not convinced this story is nationally important. (besides, there’s no Panda involved)

According to the article, Coronado city officials, school officials and the U.S. Navy agreed that school children should not be participating in these funeral processions as many of the students have parents who are active duty military. The funeral processions led many to worry about their own parents. It’s not said, but it appears the schools dismiss class for this. According to the article “the entire Coronado school district student body lined the streets to honor Chief Petty Officer Jason C. Finan, who was killed in Iraq fighting the Islamic State, in November of last year.”

So, the headline is factual, but if you didn’t read the article what impression would you be left with?

The Coronado city manager must think it’s the wrong one as he’s quoted saying “We’re as patriotic as ever and will continue to be as patriotic as ever, and we’ll still encourage individual citizens to do whatever they feel right to do.”

The picture accompanying the article is of a flag-draped coffin amid waving American flags. But I’ll save the selection of news pictures for another post.

From now on, I’m going to read headlines with a more critical eye (no matter the source).